Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm not dead, I'm just playing in the kitchen.

I've not fallen of the face of this earth, neither have I eloped with my husband. I'm just currently busy with all my holiday baking and such. Last couple of weeks, my husband has gone away for detachment, and I was busy hanging out with the other wives, which I've managed to get to know better over the time that our husbands are away.

Now that he's back, I'm actually busy with all the holiday baking for the little goodie bags that I intended to give away to the friends that I've made here. Well, isn't Christmas all about the joy of giving? I'm not the buying gifts kind, as I believe nothing can be a better gift than food. Food being home made by myself. Its a gift from the heart, hand made with sweat and love.

As u can see from how long since I've last posted, I guess u get the idea of how busy and slacking I have been. I'll be back with the cookie recipes I've been experimenting with, and some pictures!

Meanwhile, Happy holidays to everyone. Merry Christmas, & Happy New Year..

What are your new year resolutions? Made any? I'll post my resolutions after I get back from my hectic kitchen baking.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm a woman who never understands women.

So I'm re-watching my favourite TV series, that shows the love of women BFFs, fashion, sex, money and power.

I just simply love the way things are in that show. I just love how the women in the show are just not as judgemental of each other as compared to women I've met in my life. It just seems that the women I've met are always "jealous", always judging and always gossiping. I just hate all that. When will I ever find women who can just be like them? Close friends that stick by you whatever happens?

I've always been competitive in my work. I believe in since I'm working for money, why not do the best I can in the same number of hours I'm required to work, to earn the most out of it? I always put myself in the shoes of my boss, and push for the sales, push for the commission. Bring home the dollars, and nothing else matters.

I always push for a pay raise, a promotion within the 1st 3 months of work. And true enough, my last 2 jobs were the same. I got promoted to Asst Manager in my spa job. Based on the fact that I had the best customer service, and I had the highest tips, so to speak. $10 tips per customer were not a stranger to me. I could bag home $40 tips on top of my pay and commission any single day. And all these, from serving women, who I could totally envy their lifestyle.

On my last job, a office job, I aimed to hit higher standards. I wanted to bring home the $ for my wedding. And tried to climb the corporate ladder. Within the first months, I was doing acceptable sales as part time, if not better than what the full timers were doing. I went all out! The 2nd month, I was put to full time, and by the 3rd month I was full timer, I had my pay raised. Of course, that also meant higher targets. But I did hit all my targets, in fact, I hit the highest sales ever in the company within 6 months of the job. And I had all the bragging rights, since no other person in the company did that before.

Of course, all that came with a price. Gossips, back stabs, everything. I left my first job because the other women tried to steal my customers, and back stabbed me to the boss, behind my back. The 2nd job, I left because I was going to get married, and leave for USA. I could deal with all the gossips, all the hate. My boss knew my work style, and I came to work everyday to work on my own, for myself. And I didn't have to bother about anything else, other than the fact that I had the biggest pay check every month, to afford all the stuff and holidays I wanted.

I'm the kind of girl, who's direct, who loves to shoot straight to the point. If I'm not happy, I say it out, and we fix the problem, and get over it with a good glass of liquor. And I stay true to it, I leave it at that. I don't gossip anymore and I have fun after that. Many friends have stated, I'm a man stuck in a woman's body. I avoid gossip that all women love.

I have no idea sometimes, how women work. I used to have great girl friends, back in secondary school and part time work days. But stuff happened, and things changed. And we just came apart, and went on our own paths. I guess thru all the experiences in life I've had, I just grew up differently and thought of things way differently from other girls around my age.

As much as I yearned the times where we had girly fun, I'd much rather have a gay BFF or a patient man most of the time. One who could listen to all my rants, not feel that I'm too vulgar, enjoy liquor, or judge me for who I am. I've been away from women for so long, I'm actually finding it weird to blend in with a group of women now. Probably I love my peace. I dont know.

I've been hanging out with other wives since the Hubs left for his detachment. But who knows, this might be group for me. This might be the crowd that I could mix with. Maybe I've come to terms with how women are, and might be able to blend in. Maybe married life might change me. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cold and snowy...

Its snowing most part of the day today.. Started off with light flakes.. And now progressed to full snow mist for the last few hours since 5pm.. Its 11pm now and it hasn't stopped. Forecasts seems to state that its gonna last through the night till tomorrow and another inch of snow expected tomorrow. Damn. Winter wonderland? You bet. Do I like it? Hell no!

Its way too cold.. The moment I open my windows the slightest bit, the snows comes blowing into the house. Freezing. I can't even stay outside long enough without my fingers freezing out.

Hopefully it'll get warmer in the afternoon so me can go out and shovel away the snow from my doorstep, and hopefully get to other wife's house to bake our Christmas cakes.

Lots to upload.. But its cold now, and I'm lazy.. Will try to pick up the pace after tomorrow. Will take pics of our cake baking...

Till then!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bad luck.

Busy scrambling to get my driver's license. Yet no testers are free to take me for my test. I'm really pulling my hair out now as of what to do, as I'm gonna need to get it before the Hubs leave.. Stress.....

Haven't been cooking much this week due to trying to arrange my test, since its really based on the weather. We scheduled it over the weekend, but there was a storm, so it was cancelled. Once its good, and I get hold of the tester, we drive out and take it. The weather was great this morning, but the tester was no where to be found. How bad can my luck be? Sigh.

I'm not dead yet, in fact, I have loads of photos to show... No worries, plenty of posts to come by next week. Once I've settled most of what I need to before the Hubs fly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Pandan Chiffon cake

I've been craving for Pandan Cake for awhile, being in USA and not being able to conveniently get "local" food from stores is killing me. I've been cooking and baking a storm in my kitchen since I've started "playing" in the kitchen. Its where I let my creativity flow, and cook my heart out for my hubs and friends.

I've did the cake 3 times, each time changing the recipe a little. This is the one which got the best feedback, being the softest texture. It did sink alittle, but its really soft, as what the tasters preferred. Its a wee bit sweeter, so I'll go about reducing the sugar next time around.

1 cup all purpose flour (150g)
3 heaping tbsp of corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 egg yolks
9 egg whites
1 + 1/4 cup of coconut milk (300 ml)
4 tbsp pandan leaf extract
160g castor sugar
1/2 tsp pandan essence ( I use the indonesian brand, which also gives a green colouring to the cake)
1/2 tsp cream of tar tar

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix coconut milk and sugar in a sauce pot and let it boil slightly. Stir to prevent from burning. Leave aside to cool.

Mix all purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a big mixing bowl.

Separate egg yolks and egg whites into separate bowls.

Mix the yolks, coconut milk mix, pandan leaf extract, and essence in a bowl, and whisk.
Add yolk mixture into flour mix. Use the whisk and stir till smooth.


Pour egg white, castor sugar, and cream of tar tar into a large mixing bowl. 
Use hand held mixer to whisk it to stiff peaks.

Gently fold with spatula egg white mix into egg yolk mix, till thoroughly mixed.
Pour into ungreased tube pan.
Level and bake 45 minutes.
Let cake cool upside down in pan for 1 hour.
Run the back of butter knife through the sides of the pan before popping it out to slice
Done!

Still not perfect, but getting better..


Some things I've learnt along the way:
-Take care that the coconut and sugar mix is not too hot to cook the yolks when you pour it in to mix.
-It will take awhile to whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
-When you fold the egg white mix into the egg yolk mix, careful not to let more air bubbles into the mixture. Its best to do as gently as possible, while allowing the both ingredients to blend with each other as much as possible.
-The mixture will be very watery, but don't worry about it. When did my first cake, I was worried that it wasn't going to rise, or that its too watery, it will come out as gunk. But it came out quite well, and we finished it in an hour out of the oven.

-To remove as much air bubbles as possible from the cake, drop it from about 2 inches above the table carefully. Or you can hold it firmly with 2 hands, and slam the bottom of the pan onto the table.
-It is very important to let the cake cool completely before taking it out of the pan, or it will crumb terribly. My first cake had to be eaten in handfuls rather than slices.. because I could not wait for it to cool!
-It is important not to grease the pan as you want the cake to "cling" onto the sides of the pan to rise as much as possible.
-Do not fill the pan to full as the cake will rise, and will result in a dome bottom. I fill mine to half, or 3/4 full.
-My last try, I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, as I had alot of problems removing the cake from the pan, even after running my knife through the sides. It did not change any consistency of the cake, and allowed me to remove the cake easily from the pan.

Please try and share with me your photos! Let me know how I can improve this cake if you've done some experimenting on your own.. ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Men are hardest to please!

They say the best way to a man's heart, is through his stomach. I followed that, and learned how to cook. Just when I thought I've reached his heart, and wanted to do what I enjoy most, baking, he hit me with another.

"You shouldn't start trying other things till you can cook well!" 
"I've been feeding u everyday with homecooked food for the last nine months, is it still that bad?"
"No, its good! But you should practice till you can see a piece of meat and have a list of things you can do with it!"

I mean like seriously? My husband is really getting picky! Not only is he expecting more out of me now, he's picky with his food! I let him tell me what he craves for everytime, so I get challenged to do some new recipes from time to time. While surfing other food blogs, I jot down what I want to try too. I feel that in some way, cooking/baking challenges my mind to try something new all the time, and I truly enjoy it.

But from someone who can't even cook a proper instant noodle, to my current daily cooking spree, to being able to cook a full 4 -5 course meal, its not easy! I came to USA not knowing how to cook, both our parents were so worried for the both of us, worried that I won't be able to feed the both of us, or that we had to stick to microwave foods all the time, which is totally unhealthy. Look where I've progressed to!

I occasionally buy the food magazine to get some new inspirations for recipes or holiday cooking, and my husband happily flips through the magazines during his toilet breaks, screams my name, and goes, "Here got recipe for clam chowder leh! Fresh one somemore!" flips a few more pages, "Dear, maybe we should do our own lasagne, eh, here got __________ , I never try before." 

Its like those are not subtle hints! He's name dropping the dishes he wants to me to cook for him! I like the challenges he throws at me, cuz its been pushing me to get better at cooking. But, hey, who said that men are easy to please?

My husband likes it when I make so called restaurant food at home, although not as high quality as those in restaurants, but being able to taste and knowing its made with love from his dear wife, he'll just happily gobble it all down, and ask for seconds. Followed by, "Dear, I saw today so and so bring _________ to work leh! Maybe we can try to do at home!"

With that, I got a whole list of food ideas of what to cook for him in the days ahead, and at the same time, a feast to prepare in the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I have a husband who likes to try, and if its good, he wants to SHARE with his friends, means doing it all up again, so he can bring it to work for his pals. Luckily, I'm still enjoying my time in the kitchen, with all the experimenting to do, I'm happy to have all the guinea pigs to test for me.

Are your men like these too?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quit smoking for better sex!

So I've been trying to quit, and slowly I'm realizing how my body is changing with the benefits I've been gaining. Thankfully, the friends have been encouraging, and most importantly, understanding. Keeping my home smoke free, and best of all, I'm sure they benefited too, since they are also cutting down on their habits.

Some benefits:

Firstly, I'm able to exercise more comfortably. I've manage to complete my first 5k on the treadmill, though the timing's still a little slow, but I'm happy to have completed it for the first time in my entire life. Timing is something I'll be working on the next time in the gym.

Secondly, being able to breathe better. Its obviously a positive thing.

Thirdly, body feels warmer. Definitely a plus when you're living in a country that has 4 seasons, and that winter is here. My heater is set to a lower temperature, and I'm managing it better. Everyone's complaining that its too cold in my house, but I'm really liking it the way it is now. Everyone's piling on layers of clothes, but I'm happy in my T shirt and jeans.

Most important of all, the sex drive is up! And I think its a proven fact that I'm not the only one feeling this way. I did a Google on this, and noted that other quitters also felt the same. It seems that the improved blood circulation does help keep the body warm, and because of the improved circulation, the blood is diverted to everywhere in the body, which includes your sexual organs, which leads to better sex! Its AWESOME when you quit, and your entire body changes with it, and your marriage instantly feels renewed, because you enjoy sex so much more, and its just cause of one step you took to improve your health.

Its no doubt that sex is important to a certain extent in a relationship, but also does hinder quite a bit sometimes. Even as a smoker myself, the smell does turns me off when I go to bed hoping to feel all romantic, but the breathe smells like a stale ashtray. While I always knew smoking was bad for health, I never knew how quitting would improve my life so much.

I have not entirely quit the stick. I still indulge in a stick or 2 a day, but I'm feeling the changes, and I'm pushing myself to throw it away entirely. I don't feel the need to indulge in a stick to wake myself up, or to make a meal feel complete. But I'm feeling the need to keep my mouth busy because I keep wanting to eat more and more! I'm trying to convert my attention to exercising, and pushing my body really hard to it. Since, I'm trying to improve my health, why not go all out?

Join me will you? I'm sure your partner will love you more for that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Determination.

So I mentioned in my previous post that I've been targeting to complete that 5km walk/jog on the treadmill, and I did! I finished 5km on the treadmill in 45 mins. I'm hoping to work on my timing now.

All of last week I've managed to cut down on my cigs, and I'm currently at 1 stick a day. Very soon, it will be gone for good. My health has improved so much. Last time, had you ask me to walk a mile, I would have died. But last Sunday, I completed a 3.1 mile walk/jog. I was sweating all over, and my face was flushing. But it was all great! I forgot to bring a water bottle, so I was really dehydrated after the stunt. I did some weights after that, and cooled down.

I accomplished alot last week. I pushed myself during my exercises. I pushed myself to quit my vices. I pushed myself to get my driving. And I did all. I went for 2 driving lessons on Sat & Sun. Finally can get over my fear of being behind the wheel. Somehow I don't know where did I find the guts to step on the accelerator, but I did. My max speed I've done so far is 65 mph and I'm working on it to get to 75mph so I can get on the highway to drive to the City.

This week, I shall continue working on Exercise, Quitting, Driving, and one more, Trading.

The main word: Determination. I shall not give up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Birthday cakes, steaks for dinner, and my progress.

Been so long since I last uploaded recipes, but rest assured I'm still active in the kitchen, just a little lazy. Will be putting up a recipe for Carrot Cakes real soon. I did up a carrot cake with cream cheese for my friend's birthday. I also decorated it with chocolate frosting. Its quite yummy, but I expected alot more on the decor.

No, its not his 10th birthday, but his name is Ten, and he's a great friend of ours. I spent quite a bit of time on this cake. In fact, this was the 2nd time I was doing it. I did a trial run for the carrot cake before this to make sure I was having the right moistness, and the right consistency.

Its been awhile since I cooked at home, lazyness, paired with the hubs working weird hours again, made it quite tough to maintain the routine. We've been collecting the McD's monopoly tickets too. They're having the game here, with every meal bought. Its similar to the one that they had in Singapore previously.

I cooked up a quick dinner tonight, a medium rare tenderloin steak with Chicago Steak seasoning, paired with some roasted brussell sprouts. The hubs says he's gonna start liking the brussell sprouts again, since this time I roasted it awhile longer, and it really came out like chips, more than ever.






I'm still working on quitting and its been tough. Handling the frustration of trying to unwind the habit, the day to day stress and finding new ways to tackle it. So NOT easy. Its so funny that your body turns to other ways to handle the frustration, and sometimes it may be positive if you turn it the right way. Today, I only had one stick so far, and its already after dinner. I had the temptation this afternoon, and I turned it to chewing gum, and exercising. I did the No  More Trouble Zones workout by Jillian Michaels, with a pair of 3lbs weight.


I think by now its pretty obvious that I'm a JM workout fan. I think her body's awesome, and her workouts are tough. No doubt, my muscles are aching right now, but its either you go all out and leave nothing behind, or you're just wasting your time. I sweated a bunch today, but it went great. I was less breathless than before. My quitting is serving me well. I hope in time to come, I'll be able to work to jogging a 5km on the treadmill. I managed to do a 2.2 miles in 30 mins on last Sunday at the gym. 5km = 3.1 miles. So in time to come I will be able to get there, and I will start working on my timing instead. The pounds on the scale is still piling, but I'd say heck it, and just work on loving the image in my mirror.

Are you doing something good for yourself & your health?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Join me, and lets be The Biggest Quitter.

So, we've all watched and seen how The Biggest Loser contestants lose weight on their show, I want to start The Biggest Quitter. I believe everyone have their biggest vice in life, that they want to quit so much, but haven't had the motivation to. I'm no different. In fact, I do way too many things, that I know I shouldn't be, but I still do.

This is probably a post that I wouldn't want my family to see, since I've been hiding it for many years. Then again, this post should be encouraging to them, that even though I'm on my own now, with the hubby, I want them to know that, I've been looking after myself, and my husband well. And I've been pushing us, to live it healthy, and live it well. If I had to go the longer route to do things, I would, just so that we can live better.

Our life now, living 10000 miles away from the parents, and having all the freedom in the world, we have all the choice to do whatever we want, with no one to stop us. We have definitely broke all the rules we could have. Cigs, alcohol, casinos, everything. In fact, we've done it overboard, way more than we usually would back home.

I sat myself down the other day, I kept saying I wanted to be independant and live a better life than what I had. But what am I doing to help myself? I've been sleepless for the last few nights, staying up thinking what I can do to live better, be better, and be happy.

First thing on my mind, Quit Smoking. In fact, I have a whole list of things I would like to stop myself from doing, or do so sparingly. But I've been smoking for 8 years plus. And its something I'm not really proud of. I've been hiding it from the family, and its has taken a toll on my health, that I haven't noticed. I've never had the time to be active back at home, but here, I've been working on my fitness level, now that we have access to a gym. Everytime I exercise, I feel breathless, and my chest hurts, and I have to stop. Although each time I've improved a wee bit, and able to go longer, its still not enough for me.

The addiction to the habit of the continuous action, the inhaling, the holding of the stick. I want to leave it all behind. Since my last post, I've drastically pushed down the number of sticks per day. As of today, its 2 x 1/2 sticks each time. Later, I'll be heading to the super market, and I'll be buying entire stacks of sugarless chewing gum, and scattering it all over the house, in my bags, and the car. Everytime I need a stick, I'll grab a gum.


I want to quit this time, and I want to change my life for the better. Are you on your way too? I need all the encouragement and support I can get. Throw me some advice if you can, or even better, join me on my journey. Whether you want to quit smokes, or gambling, or alcohol, I'll be posting my progress here. I have a whole lot of stuff to quit to change my life the way I want it to be.

Join me, help me, give me some love, share with me your progress. I love hearing from you people. Leave me a comment, or email me at natxwang @ gmail.com

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The determination to quit..

I've been off my pill for a month. I've took a break from it a few times, and one of the things I hate about being off it, is that I can't control when the PMS comes, and when how heavy it gets. I was pissed this time it had to come on the day we left for the road trip, and I had it throughout the trip. However, being constantly in good company, I actually didn't have any bad symptoms, other than bad cramps the first day. The rest of the time, I was laughing and enjoying myself.

This trip reminded me, why I preferred the company of these "single" men, instead of finding "women" company in this place. I have grown so close with them, and they look after me like a little sister, so much that, I haven't found any reason to feel left out, or needing the company of women. Although attending events have been pretty awkward at times, seeing all the ladies here in their "cliques" and gossiping away, I've never felt the need to be part of a group, at least till now. I've had so much fun with the bros, all I wish for, is for this to last forever. At least, as long as we're here, and hopefully back in SG too. I know I'm gonna miss them so much if we ever separate.

Haven't really cooked since our trip. The supermarket was closed due to a long Public Holiday weekend here in the states. Only managed to get our groceries today, but it was too late to cook for the hubs, we grabbed Subway instead. Tomorrow I'll be able to start cooking again... ;) Hopefully will be able to grab some nice pictures to upload.

Did the Last Chance Workout today. Feels good to be sweating again, and hopefully this time I will be able to stay on track. I mentioned in my last post, that I'm trying to keep my fitness on track, and  we've been heading to gym for most weekends. I managed to get a couple of workout tops from Walmart for $2, and $3 each. So I'm hoping this is a good reason to motivate me to get my bum moving for the coming weeks to months.

For the love of curvy waists and tight arms. ;)

P.S. The title is for myself to remind that on this day, I'm moving towards a healthier lifestyle, and I'm quitting some vices that's pulling me back. Cutting down drastically, and hopefully to get it out of my life soon. 

Anyway, its a nice oxymoron isn't it?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Get up and move this lazy ass!

I haven't updated about last week. I did mention on twitter that I wanted to start exercising again. I have been lazing since our San Francisco trip in August. All the muscle that I have gained pre-trip, is gone by now. Leaving behind, a layer of flab, which I have begun with. I'm by all means, happy with my body, be it fat, or not, but I want to exercise to keep myself healthier, and fitter for winter.

The snow is coming, meaning, snowboarding is in the calendar soon. I don't know whether this time, I'm going to be making a fool out of myself in the snow again, but I do know that either way, I'm going to be frost biting myself again in the mountains, while waiting for the guys to have their fun. The Hubs doesn't want to leave me alone at home, thus, I will always go with them, either waiting in the car, or the cafe.

So last Sunday, the Hubs had a badminton game scheduled, and had plans to head to the gym in the evening. He asked me if I'd be going with him, before August, I'd be nagging at him to go to the gym, as I've always been looking forward to a workout, and I've always been energetic then. Last Sunday, I was so looking forward to lazing in, as per, since after SFO. I just wanted to laze around and cuddle with him, but he had a game with his friends to play. So, either way, its either he go on his own, or I go with him.

I told him I didn't want to go, and made excuses like I had a ton of things to do at home, and asked him to go ahead. I tried to keep myself busy on the laptop, pretending to work on something. Just as he was about to leave, I decided to heck it, and changed into my workout gear and went with him. All the time, I was encouraging him to live a healthier lifestyle, change his diet, and be more active, and here I am, not leading by example. Gymming is healthy, and no cost for us here! So why am I actually hesitating? Its a good way to spend the weekend, isn't it?

So off we went, as he was hitting and smacking in the courts, I warmed up on the stationary bicycle for 20 mins. Hit up a sweat on the elliptical for 15 mins and gave the treadmill a good HIIT for 20 mins. I was sweating all over, and it felt damn good. I needed that, and I couldn't believe I've been lazing my way out of it for so long. Hubs broke out a good sweat on his games, and when we went home, I thanked him for bringing me along. It just made me feel good about working out again. And it was a great kick start. Daily workouts? I'm doing it. The plan starts next week, From lazy ass, to crazy ass.

Next week starts: More active lifestyle, and more vegetables. Joining me?

P.S. I've had an entire week of Green Monster aka spinach shake. My face is glowing, my hair is growing, and I'm feeling better than before. Just needing an active lifestyle now, to keep my body in check. ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

1 fraud, 1 scam, 1 day.

I was very much looking forward to this week, as I know we're going to be having an awesome weekend. The photos and the fun will come later, but as of now, I haven't really been blogging, as this week just came off to a bad start. On Monday, I found out there were some unauthorised usage to my husband's card, and someone swiped off a good amount of our savings, and right now, I'm still trying to work with the bank to get back our money. I found out in the morning when he went to work, and I was doing my usual banking stuff, and noticed a huge amount deducted, which we didn't spend.

I called up the bank immediately, but was unable to access his account. Tried contacting him the entire morning, and gave up as his phone wasn't with him. I was just scared, wondering who was the one using the money, and how did it got swiped off. Luckily, I found his colleague on FB, and he went into their workplace to inform the Hubs, and he took time off from work to come back to call up the bank to cancel the card.

After the hubs left, I went to pay some bills online, and I found out our USA banks had been swiped too. We tried to buy some tickets online, but the transaction did not go through, and when I called the place up, they assured me there will be no cancellation charges, but however, my bank statement reflected that there was $50 deducted by that company. So once again, I had to go through the cancellations of cards, and submitting another dispute form to get back our $.

How unlucky can you get in a day? 1 fraud, 1 scam in 1 day? Its a bad start, and I'm just not feeling good about it. Didn't really cook well this week, didn't have the mood too. I'm just  hoping the banks will be able to get back what's rightfully ours.

On a bright note, I bought 2 books this week.


You can be sure some interesting food entries will be coming up soon... Meanwhile, let me have a good long weekend break, to get these stuff off my mind, and I will be back, with loads of pics. =D

Have a good long weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe: Easy Bread Pudding.

I used to dance around in buffets whenever I see Bread Pudding is being laid out. The softness of the bread, combined with the sweetness of the other ingredients, is just so comforting. The warmth of the dessert just relaxes me. I know, I'm over indulgent, and I love food waaaaayyyyy too much. My tummy shows it, and I can't help it.

I always thought that its gonna be a difficult dish to handle, to do, to make the texture, and the moistness, while being crisp on the surface. It just seemed so hard. So it just happened when I came across this recipe, seeing that it was so simple to do, and with all the ingredients available in my pantry, and 1 loaf of lousy bread to boot, I hit the kitchen and did it.

The results was just what I wanted. Exactly how I described. I loved bread puddings that were moisty and soft, but alittle crisp on the crust.. I reduced the sugar by a little, and threw in more raisins, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of nutmeg over it.

Easy Bread Pudding  adapted from Are You Hungry?

Ingredients:

6 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk (i used vanilla soy milk)
1/2 cup white sugar (i used abt 3/4 of the half cup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (its okay to go more on here! I did!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a dash of nutmeg (optional, but i did too!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

 I know they said square, but it doesn't matter if its round right?

Tear stale bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. Sprinkle with raisins.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaked up the egg mixture.

I used way more raisins than 1/2 cup. =D


Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Try it and let me know how it goes! Happy baking!

 As soon as the photos were taken, I just had to dig my spoon into it and grab a "bite".

Sidenote: I'm thinking of baking my own breads here, since all the breads here don't taste as like how we usually eat it back in SG. Should I? I have tried 6 brands. I want breads that are soft, taste good, healthy, and can spread my butter and cheese without tearing itself apart... Can't find in supermarket here. Sigh.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recipe: Awesome steak with sauce

I did this for our 1st Anniversary dinner, and received many kind comments on preparing that "romantic dinner".  Thing is, while the name and all sounds oh-so-difficult to prepare, I'd like to share how simple and easy the sauce is, to make. The Hubs actually loved the sauce, and thought that I spent alot of time making it. When I first saw the entire recipe for the filet mignon, I was afraid to try it out. But the end result probably took me about 15 minutes to comeplete, which, for a newbie home cook like me, should be an easy task for everyone.

Juicy steaks.. leave them in the packaging until you're ready to cook them, to keep them as "juicy" as possible.

When you prepare the filet mignon, you don't really need to season it, other than a good dash of black pepper. The bacon that surrounds the meat is a natural seasoning on its own. Some recipes call for cooking 3 mins on each side of the meat, but when I first cut into the meat its still bloody, and raw. I would say go for around 9 mins each side, if you like it medium like me.



For the sauce:

3tbsp of butter
2/3 cup of red wine or shao xing rice wine.
1tbsp of Dijon Mustard
1 onion


Grab a sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter in it.
Add in the onions, or shallots. Let it sweat and caramelize. Around 1 minute.
Add wine, mustard, and let it simmer another 2 minutes, stirring it occasionally, to let it mix well.
Reduce heat to medium low.
Whisk in 2 more tbsp of butter.
Season if needed. I didn't, I just allowed the natural flavours to mix around, and spooned it over my steaks.

Dig in with a good glass of wine! ;) Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tablets, ebook readers, Ipad, and what not.

I was probably seconds away from clicking the purchase button to get a sleek and sexy Ipad online. I've been searching for a ebook reader for the past 2 weeks, and ended up leaning towards the ipad for a long time. I loved the app Noterize where I could put notes all over my books that I needed to study.

The price was usd$599 for the 32gb Wifi only edition, and its quite certain that Apple will not lower the price for awhile. The response seemed to be overwhelming despite the fact that there are complaints of no camera, and that you can't multi-task on this device. I'm a fan of multi-tasking, and I've always had multiple tabs everytime I sit at my laptop. I didn't want to splurge on the 3G version, as my HTC phone already has it, and I can surf net and all on it now, without the "bigger" screen.

I like Android as it is, with more "free" apps available in the App store. However, Apple's Itunes, although need to spend abit of $ to get on with the better apps, it really does have alot of better apps. If only any device could get hold of them, they'd probably earn much more on the Apps store.

I did a further search into the Ipad after being hesistant to pay for the tax, which led it to cost me an additional $40 more on the purchase. I've never been more thankful for all the information online. I discovered that the Ipad was having problems connecting to the Wifi, and that Apple have acknowledged that. For someone like me, who can't live without being "connected", how can I purchase something, that is already facing connection problems even before I purchased it?

I further went on to search on other tablets, there's gonna be a good invasion on tablets after seeing how Ipad ruled for awhile, and how consumers are indirectly feedbacking to what the Pad was lacking. I'm eyeing on the Micro Cruz tablets, the Eeepc, the Asus, and the Dell tablets coming out soon. Though on Android still, I'm happy with the lower price tag on the Android systems, and corrections to what consumers want. Plus, I'm quite sure, there'll eventually be a flood of apps to be used for the Android once the market is sufficiently filled.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Green Monster

I've been surfing other foodie blogs since I started my adventures in my kitchen. Have to get some recipes for inspiration, and to satisfy my cravings at the same time. I came across The Green Monster Movement after surfing Oh She Glows blog from Julie's site.

As I was surfing through the recipes of smoothies that other readers have left, I decided to "heck it and make my own!" Green Monster. I didn't have any spinach, but I needed some green vegetables to make my Green Monster right? So after rummaging through my fridge, here's what I got for myself.

6 leaves of cabbage
2 celery stalks
a bunch of grapes
6 ice cubes
a drizzle of honey

Throw all into a blender, and blend blend blend, pushing it down with a spoon.



I gulped half of it down before remembering to take a photo of it. Well, I figured, I did it out of boredom, and if its going to give me some benefits for my health, why not? Its a helluva big cup for a person to drink. Great for detox and filling up my hungry tummy. It tasted good, and its a good way to make use of the leftover vegetables in the fridge, rather than letting them wilt and go to waste. I can't wait to make one for the Hubs, since he's adverse to eating Vegs too. Let's wait and see!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dentists - the all time biggest nightmare

I have been having cold feet the last few days thinking about my dental appointment. Today came, and I went for it. I had to. Been having toothache for almost 2 months now. Procrastination, combined with the difficulty to get a dentist appointment here. The experience was awful.

Almost all my life, I've been having the fear of visiting a dentist. Since like Primary school. The dentist all seemed like monsters then, and they were out to hurt you with the metallic tools they have on a tray. Visiting a dentist is like going for a major op. They squeeze every damn equipment they can in between your lips, and it comes with a motor buzzing sound, followed by the painful vibrations as it rubs against your tooth.

Normally, I would have taken it with a bit of cringing. Today, I had to take it with a bunch of cringing and tears flowing down my forehead. I would say, the dentists in USA probably are the most technology advanced clinics, as compared to SG. They also go all out to make their places comfortable, and make sure you feel good.

As I lay down on the chair, with the huge spotlight hovering over me, the nurse came over, and told me she was going to start the massage. YES, we get massaged in the dentist clinics, but not the spa massage, the chair that we lie on, have the massaging function in it. Its like an Osim, but in a patient chair. WOW.

In front of me, was a LCD screen hovering behind the spotlight. It had a beautiful beach picture on a it while I was waiting for the dentist to attend to me. As the nurse was preparing, the x ray of my jaw appeared on the screen instead. The x ray was taken before we started, and it was done in a room, with a machine where you place your jaw and bite onto a plastic, and the machine goes around your head to take a 360 view.

I actually cried after the experience. But I understand that the dentist didn't have any other option. The cavity I had was in the back of my last wisdom tooth. He had to do everything based on a mirror reflection, and I had to open my jaw as wide as possible throughout that 1 1/2 hours so he could work on it. My jaw ached after the experience was over. My gums swelled and hurt and I couldn't rest my jaw properly due to the jaw cramp and gums bleeding.

I'm happy that the entire experience is over, but it also means I can't eat proper food for days. No nice food to show ya all. Its gonna be soup soup and more soups for now.

Till I recover,
Love.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recipe: Drunken Chicken

 This is our dinner yesterday. Its a simple to cook using alcohol aka Shaoxing Rice Wine. When we first came here, I've never heard of it before, and never really cooked with it before. But after adding it to some of our stews, its now an official staple in our kitchen, and I always keep an extra bottle. I cook alot with it these days, replacing any recipe that calls for cooking wine with it. Its quite cheap to use too!

This recipe is taking from Rasamalaysia. They have alot of Asian recipes, and I take alot of inspiration from it when I plan for my meals. Have fun with the recipes, and let me know how it goes!



Shanghai Drunken Chicken Recipe Ingredients:
3 lbs chicken, dark meat preferably
2 Tbsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
0.5 oz. ginger, thinly sliced
4 – 6 green onion, white parts only, sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 C Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp white sugar
Ice cubes and water
Method:
Mix the salt with the two peppers. Rub the chicken all over with the salt and pepper and let it sit for an hour.
Poaching Method:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a Dutch oven or large pot, add the green onion bottoms and ginger. Add the chicken, make sure there is enough water to cover the chicken, and return to a boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. If you’re using a whole chicken, when the water is simmering for 10 minutes, lift the chicken out of the water and make sure the stock in the cavity empties back into the pot. Do that 3 times for a whole chicken. For chicken pieces or leg quarters, gently stir the pot once or redistribute the leg quarters so they cook evenly. After 10 minutes, cover, turn off the heat, and allow the chicken to poach undisturbed until the water cools almost to room temperature.
Steaming Method:
Bring water to a boil in the steamer. Place the chicken in an even layer, scatter the green onion and ginger all over and steam over medium heat for 30 – 40 minutes or until the internal temperature near the bone reaches 165 – 170 degrees F. If the chicken pieces are larger, they will take longer to steam. If any of the pieces are touching make sure to redistribute them in the middle of cooking so they cook evenly.
Mix the ice cubes and water and shock the chicken in ice cold water for 2 minutes. If you poached the chicken, shock it after the chicken has cooled to room temperature. If you steamed the chicken, shock it immediately after steaming.
After cooking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, or score the chicken meat with a knife. Put the chicken pieces into a large container. Mix 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the chicken stock (the liquid you poached the chicken in or the liquid that comes out of the chicken after steaming) with the sugar and rice wine. Taste the marinade and add salt if needed. Pour it over the chicken pieces and let this sit in the fridge at least overnight before serving. Serve cold.

To give love, is to receive love.

The soft buzzing sound of an engine came closer, as I heard it turn into our driveway, forwarding, then reversing. I waited. The doors opened, and closed. BEEP! That familiar alarm, that I wait for daily. It means the Hubs home! Without the beep, I wouldn't go to the door. I've done that before, opening, only to realise its the neighbour. I have trained my ears so well, that I recognise the sound so clearly, its almost no mistake. I know when its him, and I know when its friends.

Its my daily routine that when I hear that, I'll go to the door, and jump on him with a big hug and smile. Its a sign of "Welcome HOME!". We've always wanted our own place, and that place has to feel good, to want to hang out in it. I've tried my best to make our home, like home, in the sense of food, comfort and love. But I'm still a messy and lazy person inside, so my place is still quite a mess, but I'm still trying.

Today was no different, except that, the beep came a little later than it should. I was looking around for my slippers that were stuck under my sofa. As I grabbed them, he had already opened the door.

"Dearie??!?!", echoed in a soft-tone.
"Ya?" I shouted back.
"Where are you?", while taking of his work boots.
"Hold on! I'm putting on my bedroom slippers, coming right now!", I popped out in front of him.
His face looked concerned, and not too happy as he stood up from removing his boots. He came over and scooped me into his arms.
"Hey baby, I missed you, why so late?", I asked, surprised at his reaction, since he's not usually so full of affection.
"I'm sorry."
"Why? What happened?" thinking that something must have happened at work.
He scooped me in another big bear hug. "I'm sorry that I shouted at you today."

Tears welled up in my eyes, as I tried to hold it back. I took the fight earlier, as that we both had a moment of frustration, and I didn't want to go back to it anymore. I did have a short burst of tears while we were fighting outside, but I held back and continued with my day as though nothing happened. I treated him with as much love as I usually did. And we joked, and chatted, as per like any other happy day.

My grip around him tightened. As my emotions came upon me. We are both Aries, temperamental and stubborn in our own way. When something happens, we usually fight over it, get angry, quarrel, sleep and forget about it. The next day, always becomes like any other day, cheerful and great, as long as I get a good sleep the night before. This time, it seems, he went to work, and thought about what happened today. It seems he thought about my feelings. It seems he thought about me at work. I felt loved.

"I love you.", I whispered, not releasing my grip.
"Love you too.", as he kissed me on my cheek.
"Love you much more!!!", I teased, with a kiss on his lips.

As he went about his nightly routine, my eyes followed him around with much love and respect. I've been telling myself, "To give love, is to receive love. The more you give, the more you receive."

Today it paid back. It felt good. The warm fuzzy feeling I had in my heart, as I cuddled with him to sleep. Love, and loved.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Windows Live Writer ate my post!

Darn it! I typed an entry earlier on, and saved it, then went about to do my own things. I came back, wanted to edit it, and add some pictures, and the damn software just wouldn't start. I've restarted my laptop, ended some applications, tried to update it, but just wouldn't work. I read somewhere that Live Writer was good, that it could help upload photos faster and such. But no, its not working for me. It ATE my post! I forgot how I wrote it, and having to re-type it makes my creativity flow into the drain. ARGH.

Anyway, just wanted to showoff update on my new kitchen additions. After our little arguement, I went off to buy the needed groceries, and went on to check out the cookwares section. I needed a roasting/baking pan and a cooling tray badly, since my previous one just rusted it way out. The cheaper brands are always like that, they get rusty so easily. I didn't mind paying more to get a better brand, with non stick capabilities, that might help stop the rusting too.

I headed out to the Wilton section, and checked out the trays. I've been wanting to get a tray for to make the Pandan cake I've been craving for, but I guess that's gotta wait. I wouldn't want the Hubs to kick me for buying new equipment every week. The food has to taste awesome to justify the amount I spend to update my pantry. While I like my food to taste good, I still want to keep on experimenting with new ingredients, and new dishes. I have the choice to blend into the community I am in now (the USA), so why would I want to keep on cooking Asian dishes, day in day out? I want to try new stuff, I want to try food that they cook for meals here, of course, the healthier versions.

I picked up my stuff and left. Spent about $14 on the trays, and another $40+ on groceries. More spices, and new trays to bake, and grill, and experiment in! 
Yup, take a look at the picture in the tray, and I guess you'll know what I'm really excited to experiment next. =D 

I heard that they manage to find mutton/lamb in Costco and we're heading out to find out this weekend. I'm really craving for mutton curry, which my Ananth's mum always cook during Deepavali. As most would know, I'm not a spicy food eater. But the meat is something I'm craving. What did I say? I'm a CARNIVORE. I couldn't find any alternative curry paste here, so I thought I'd try out this Thai paste, unless I can find some at the Indian shop that we're going to check out this weekend.

I've been using alot of herbs and spices in our food recently, after reading that its healthy, brings good flavour, and most of them are anti-oxidants! I use up cinnamon in at least 2 dishes per week. And nutmeg is a new addition to my spice rack. I've been encouraging the Hubs to join me in eating oatmeal, and he's slowly but surely eating more of it.  There was a glimpse of excitement when I added 2 tubs of it into the trolley. So I'm looking to experiment with oatmeals and different toppings. I bought nutmeg after reading alot of people use it as a topping. I personally love cinnamon to bits but Hubs is the total opposite. He hates it and finds that it has a strong smell. I'm hoping he would love this instead. I'm sneak some into his next bowl of oatmeal and see how it goes. ;)

Another day of driving..

I still think I improved, well just a wee bit. The fact that I didn’t come from a family that drives, or own a car, its hard for me to pick up driving. Staying in SG, you never really needed a license. My parents never felt the need to. Taxis are available everywhere, and even in the wee hours, or the most secluded locations, you can always call for one. They’re quite cheap too, comparing them to the other more well developed countries.
So today we needed to make a trip down for groceries, and for an event that the Hubs needed to prepare for. I took the leap and tried to drive again, after my last scary incident, I wanted to pay attention, and stay calm. I did manage to stay calm for most of the entire trip, I even managed to get through the turn that I went up the curb on previously. It wasn’t a perfect turn, but it will make do for now.
I needed to make a left turn into the car park, so as I went to the middle lane, Hubs was asking me to STOP and wait. I was busy looking in my mirrors and front, I didn’t realise I didn’t stomp on the brakes hard enough, and I was rolling. He started shouting, and I stomped on it. There were cars coming on, and I was rolling. I was safe in a way, because I was looking for any oncoming vehicles, but I was wrong in the way where I’m supposed to go to a full stop, when I was still rolling. We had a brief fight after that, but all is good now. & I’m not gonna let that affect me.
I need to learn how to approach that middle lane to left turn, in that 3 way road. I need to remain calm, and I need to learn how to park. My learners permit is going to expire on 2nd Oct. And I’m not even halfway there. I’ll need to extend it, and get out there to practice more! Staying calm & collected is most important.
Apologies for the rambling, but i just need to get it out of me. The blog’s just my way of putting it all out and reviewing myself.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recipe: Mince Pork Noodle aka Bak Chor Mee

The Singapore hawker favorite of Mince Pork Noodle, or Bak Chor Mee. Something that I've been craving, for a long time. I was having a hard time thinking of what I should do for dinner since it was just me and Hubs at home. The good friend was back in SG visiting. When its only the 2 of us eating, I'd just try to whip up easy 1 dish meals to get over the dinner as long as it was enough to fill the tummy.

We used to eat this almost every night when we went to the coffeeshops for supper. After gaming hours, so called. Over here, no coffeeshop, no supper sessions, most importantly, no gaming kakis. We do having movie marathons though, where the friends would come over, and watch movies and drama series to no end.

I got the recipe from Food Made With Love and edited it a little for the carnivore in me. =D



Ingredients:

For the minced meat
Minced pork -250g or as much as u need! I added lots!
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark sweet sauce aka kecap manis
1 small can button mushrooms
2 slabs of pork loin sliced. (optional) (I told u i'm a carnivore!!)

Take the measurements as a guide, and keep tasting your food, and adjust it to your liking!

For the Stewed mushrooms
A handful of Dried shitake mushrooms. (whole or sliced doesn't matter)
olive oil
sliced ginger
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
hot water enough to cover your mushrooms to soak.

For the noodles
4 bundles of flat yellow noodles (for the 2 of us. we are big eaters though!)
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
a splash of fish sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp of water

Fried Mince Meat
1. Heat the pan with the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and fry till it just turns a slight tinge of brown.
Add the mince meat and fry till cooked. Remember to break it up to small pieces.
Add the different sauces and fry, on medium-low heat, till all the liquid reduces.
Stirring occasionally. Add the button mushroom till it’s incorporated.
2. You can cook this in advance, and pop it into the microwave to heat it up just before serving

Stewed Mushroom
1. Pour hot water over the dried chinese mushrooms and soak for 15 mins.
Do not throw the water left after you take the mushrooms out.
Squeeze out the water of each mushroom, and cut it into relatively thin slices.
2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the slices ginger and fry till tender.
Add the mushrooms and fry till fragrant.
Add the oyster sauce and a few tablespoons of water (from the mushrooms)
cook under medium-low heat and allow the mushrooms to absorb the liquid (plumping it up in the process)
3. Keep adding water (at least 2 more additions) and allow it to cook over low heat for at least 30mins.
so that it’s soft and tender. and bursting with flavour!

Noodles :
1. In a large bowl, add ketchup, oyster sauce, and fish sauce and mix till incorporated.
2. Boil the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet
(Normally, I put the noodles in hot boiling water and scoop it up almost immediately
or else it will get too soft and will break into small pieces easily)

Optional: If you're like me, guilty from all the meat, you may add a handful of chopped fresh lettuce to top the bowl. I did add some, probably a fingerful, but its being covered by the huge scoops of meat. *drool*

I copied the recipe from Food Made with Love, but edited it to how I cooked it. I left out the fishballs and beansprouts. We're not big fans of veggies. And I added ketchup to my noodles sauce, it made it sweeter. Much to our liking. Enjoy!

Taking on the problems, one workout at a time.

Somehow, yesterday, after many days of procrastination, I changed into my sports attire, and started working out again. My muscle groups are still sore today, after a long break from working out. The last time I worked out was before our San Francisco trip. That would be like, 1 and 1/2 months ago?

I could feel the difference in my body. Back then, I could workout everyday, and feel energised. Not sore at all. I was hardly breathless, and didn't sweat too much in the earlier parts of my routines. I managed to work myself into doing some of the Insanity videos, after finding that Jillian Michaels was getting too easy for me, and I bought 5 lbs weights, after realising that the 3lbs were too light for me. After a month of just light walking, and not hitting the sweaty point, my entire body seemed to have lazed off. I can't find any firm or lean muscles, everything has gone back to flab.

I have been constantly feeling tired, and sleepy all day. Even sleeping 11 hours didn't help. And I was at my breaking point yesterday, when I drove up a curb, and I stomped on my breaks and just paused there. Stoned. Hubs shouted at me to get going before another car came onto us. He was worried about how I am going to learn driving if I couldn't react to it. I felt tired after that incident, and annoyed with myself. It just drained alot of me, and when we reached home, all I wanted to do was to lay on the bed and be alone. I'm very much of a perfectionist in some ways. The things that I want to do, must be perfectly done, learnt in the shortest period of time. If it doesn't turn out well, I get pissed or annoyed with myself for failing what I wanted to do.

I had many months to learn how to drive, but have been procrastinating. I never really thought of it, and in fact, I fear it. I quite hate having the idea of being in control of this huge machine and it may get me around safely, or cost me my life. I've managed to get the Hubs to teach me quite a few times over the past 2 weeks, and I've managed to drive around our little neighbourhood, safely. So when that happened in the main road, I was just in shock.

Later in the day, after the Hubs went to work, I went online to check out how other people thought of driving, and I realised I wasn't alone in having that fear. I love cool cars, and all, but I'd rather a cool dude drive me around too. ;) I was alot calmer after reading the articles, but yet, frustrated with myself for being such a wuss.  In the past 3 months, I sweated to all my frustrations. I vented in the gym, pushing myself super hard, or on 2 Insanity videos, that made me feel like I was going to die, with my face all red and sweaty.

Yesterday, was no different, knowing I have not been working out, I picked out JM's Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. Its a bodyweight workout, and all you need was just a mat. It did do its job in making my entire body ache, and me sweaty and breathless once again. I hate the workout process, but its what it brings me after the process. After bathing, I always feel refreshed, energised, and wanting to take on something I can't. I just wanted to face my problems head on. For now, its wanting to take the car out for another drive, and making it better than the previous drive I had.

When the Hubs came back from work, I shouted, " Lets go drive tomorrow again!", and he looked at me and knew, I haven't gave up on it, like what I used to do. I know I need to learn by November, and I am putting this on my priority list. I also need to exercise, to give me energy, and alertness in everything I do. Lets make this work out now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our 1st Anniversary Dinner

Its hard to find a place to eat here, there's no place here that excites my taste buds, neither are there any places that spells romantic. The best foods around here, are the fast food restaurants. On days I don't cook, and we stay in MH, I'd rather just grab a Mushroom & Swiss from McD.

Since our anniversary fell on a weekday, and my hubs is working morning shift. I decided to prepare a "surprise" romantic dinner in our own home for him. So he can just come back from work, bath, eat, have some wine, and laze on the couch with me. Perfect isn't it?

The menu of the day:
-Potato Salad topped with raisins.
-Filet Mignon with sauce
-Strawberry Cheesecake

All paired with Parma Ridge Sweet Blush Wine 2005.

I have no idea how to put romance in our dining area, based on the fact that the weather has been cold, and walking to buy decorations and carrying them back is not gonna be an easy task. I used what I had on hand.

The plastic wine glasses are from Dollar Tree's Valentines Day sales. I did up the potato salad in the early afternoon, and left it in the fridge to chill. Next, I prepared the sauce for the filet mignons. I had no idea how to prepare it, as the commiss had ran out of red wine, which was what I intended to use initially. I searched for some recipes online, but decided to replace the red wine with shaoxing rice wine, and added a little sugar instead. 


Here's how I set it up. I even wiped the dripped sauce off the plates. Must be watching too much Gordon Ramsay's shows. Sigh. 

I warmed up the sauce that I prepared, and drizzled it over the filets, and topped it with lots of onions. The sauce was fantastic. I loved it. Hubs raved about it. He said it was the happiest day ever since we got married. ;)  

I thought we could have a good sit down dinner, and talk and romance over dinner and wine. However, the meat was still quite raw in the center. The recipe recommended to cook the meats for 6 mins on each side, which I followed to the second, for medium rare meats that the Hubs liked. However, it turned out to be too raw. Had to run back and forth the kitchen to refire the meats to make them slightly less red and more edible. I would reccomend to cook them for around 12 minutes on each side and that should make it more edible. 




Candlelights, and wine.. What more could I ask for in a romantic dinner at home, for less than $20. ;) 
Happy Anniversary Hubs, love u always. Recipes on how to prepare the food step by step... Coming up next!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I love you. 1 year of marriage.

It only seems like yesterday that we were standing in the little white hut by Keppel Club saying our vows, and I dos. I held back my tears as you put the ring on me, knowing that we're gonna have each other till death do us part. We have had many ups and downs in our relationship, our journey to getting married, and our moving here.

We were hesitant, somewhat afraid, at the thought of being here alone, of being unable to cope, never having lived on our own before, the fear of managing everything on ourselves were huge. Yet we've overcome it, and came so far. The combination of you and me, leaves us no fear. We have fought, and quarreled, shouted hurtful things to one another, argued our insecurities, and at the same time, letting one another know our fears. Each unhappy episode led to tears, and sadness, not forgetting the hurt we feel inside. But each time, allowing us to know one another better, building our relationship, as it gets stronger every day.

Every day we are together, we learn about one another. We stay strong together, because we never stop working on our relationship to stay together. Thank you for being the man of my house. Thank you for supporting me through my successes and failures. Thank you for looking after me all these times. Thank you for working hard to bring the dough back so I have no other worries, than to do my best to look after our home, and focus on what I should. Thank you for thinking for me all the time. Thank you for bringing me on all our travels and planning for future ones. We will hit our goal to travel around the world one day. Together we'll make that journey happen.

So many words to describe how I feel for you, but you should know it by now. 8 years dating, 1 year of marriage. Every moment with you is a celebration. I love you.


Happy 1st Year Anniversary of Marriage.
Aaron & Natx 09/09/09.
With many more to come. ;)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The dreaded dependence on the pill

I'm taking a break off the pill this time. Long or short, I still don't know. But hubs doesn't want me to get back on, after he heard the dangers of eating the pill. I've been on it for almost 8 years, after my doctor prescribed me to take it to control my fainting spells during my period. I'm pretty dependent on it to control my monthly period, and my hormones. One thing good, it keeps my complexion clear, and also, my hormones in check. I don't get PMS as badly as I used to, and my mood doesn't swing as crazy, I don't get painful cramps, and of course, no pregnancy.

I bought 2 year supply of pills to bring over, thinking that we're here for only 2 years. Hub's contract got extended and the good news is, we're here for 2 years 11 months in total. Somehow or the other, I wouldn't have enough pills to last me thru our entire trip here. But hearing the advertisements harping on how the pill causes a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, its really getting to me. Probably when I'm much younger, I rather face these risks than get married and have kids unprepared. As of now, i'm married, and probably ready to have kids as they come.

We've decided to come off the pill, but I'm surprised to see the side effects coming on me now. Pimples are popping out (must start to make use of all my masks!!!), skin is getting from bad to worse. All of a sudden, my weight is dropping pretty scarily. Well, hubs is losing alot of weight too. I think its probably because I've been cooking the healthier choices, and adding herbs to our food to make it more tasty, thus, fulfilling. My last period after getting off the pill almost killed me. It was hurting like crazy all week, and lasted 5 days. I'm really hoping the effects are gonna wear off and my body can go back to usual. I'm hoping to start another workout regime, and my body can bounce back to the healthier state, as well as improve my appetite and increase my weight again. Sigh.

I hope coming off the pill now will help the effects of the pill wear off soon, and once my body goes back to normal, maybe we can consider having kids. ;P Wish us luck! hehe

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Portabello Mushrooms with Tomato and Mozzarella Cheese

I've read a few times how Portabello mushrooms are like steaks to vegetarians, but I couldn't understand why. I've wanted to try cooking with portabellos for sometime, but felt intimidated by the size of the mushroom cap. So the other day, when we went to get our groceries, I decided to just grab a pack of 2 caps to try cooking for lunch the next day. I mixed and matched it with whatever I had in the fridge, and it turned out so good, the guys wanted me to cook it again next time. Here's what I did:


Ingredients:
2 portabello mushroom
salt & pepper
McCormick steak seasoning
1 tomato, diced
Mozzarella cheese, shreded

1. Preheat oven to 395F.
2. Scrape out gills from underside of mushroom cap. Rinse clean.
3. Season with salt and pepper and steak seasoning.
4. Spread out tomatoes on the underside of mushroom cap.
5. Top with plenty of Mozzarella cheese! I love cheese, so I used plenty of it.
6. Put mushrooms on tray, and put in oven for 20 mins, checking every 10 mins.
7. Slice when its done, or eat the caps whole!

This tastes amazingly juicy, its almost like a burger without the bun. A good lunch would be to put the mushroom between a burger bun, and its almost gonna taste like a mushroom swiss! The guys loved it, and I'm crazy over it. I'm quite sure i'll be doing another one soon.. Its easy to make, and very healthy, since all of it is vegetables and cheese. I've always wanted to try cooking with tomatoes, and I believe if I kept eating it, I would eventually come to like it. And I was right! ;) More tomato recipes to come!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Parmesan Herbed Flounder with Bread Crumbs.

When we first arrived in Idaho, settled down in our house and started shopping for our groceries, it was difficult to find Asian food. Its a necessity to cook everyday, as the guys had to bring lunchboxes to work. There's hardly time to drive around to buy food, plus, the only food available to purchase was Burger King. Well, I'm a loving wife, who cares about her husband's diet, and I wouldn't want him chewing on that everyday.

We've come a long way, it started out that he was the one experimenting in the kitchen and doing all the cooking on his own. Then I started having slight interest, and tookover some of the dishes. As I studied more and more recipes and foodie blogs online, I started doing more and more of the cooking, trying out new dishes. It has now come to a point that I've completely taken over the cooking, with joy, and him, taking over the laptop and tv, with greater joy. His tummy is happy too. With new flavours and new dishes to try all the time.

I prefer dishes with lesser ingredients, easy to prepare, but a burst of flavours. It isn't easy to find reasonably priced fish where we live. In Singapore, we can easily buy fish in the market. But here, there's only supermarket. No wet markets. They upsell the fishes in the "fresh" section, but the colour didn't look fresh, and its probably frozen before. Its expensive! We didn't eat fish in the first few months that we were here, and it came to a point, when we wanted to eat fish, we'd go for Fillet O Fish. How pathetic is that!

On one of my afternoon walks, I decided to walk to the commissary and check out the food available. When the husband isn't around, I can take a good long walk around and study each ingredient available to me, so I can take a mental note to what I can find within my reach, and look out for new  recipes to try. I headed to the frozen seafood section. What surprised me was, there were lotsa fish available there, and while at first look, the prices were $10 and above, at closer look, there's many fillets inside. We've been paying $1 per small fillet before that, its almost and indulgence to have fish in USA. So when I saw that buying fish that was frozen before, the price was more affordable and can be a good addition to our meals.. I bought a packet of flounder to try first. It was the cheapest of the lot. And I'm sure, I'll be hitting on Tilapia and salmon next.

Here's the recipe for my Parmesan Herbed Flounder with Bread Crumbs. We originally wanted to fry it, but I decided on a healthier baked version.


6 flounder fillets
4/5 tbsp McCormick Parmesan Herb
2 tablespoon dried parsley
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Season the first with salt and pepper.
3. Coat the fish with a light coat of olive oil.4. In a dry bowl, mix the panko bread crumbs with parmesan herb and parsley.
5. Press the bread crumb mix into fillets.
6. Lay the fish in baking tray lined with aluminium foil.
7. Bake for about 10 mins and turn the fish over.
8. Bake for another 8 - 10 mins until fish is cooked through.

Although baking it was a healthier route, I would probably try to fry it the next time around. It was flaking too easily and the fish kept breaking up as we tried to pick it up with a fork. It was quite dry and not really juicy. But it might be due to our fillets being too thin and small. Might be good to bake when cooked with a thicker cut. The seasoning was tasty and just right. Hubby thought his had a little too much cheese. But I liked mine the way it was. Cheesy and tasty. ;)

Let me know how yours turned out! ;)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This isn't a very positive month for me, and I hate blogging about negative stuff. Celebrate and share the good times, and forget the bad ones. I've been trying to focus my time on cooking, and hoping this will pass my time quickly. It seems I've been getting in giddy and the low blood pressure is back again. This week especially I've had a few giddy spells and feeling weaker than usual. I want to get back up to my exercise routine, but I don't want to push myself too hard.

Please bring on the positive stuff and let this month come to a good end.

As mentioned in the earlier posts, I wanted to try some new foods. I'm tired of sticking to purely asian dishes, and wanted a wider variety in my cooking, with different foods. Yesterday I experimented with brussel sprouts. I feel that vegetables are meant to be healthy and cooked with minimal ingredients. I usually do a stir fry, with oyster sauce and garlic for my leafy veggies.

This is my first time cooking with brussel sprouts and I wanted to cook it simple to taste the flavours of the leaves, so I can think of what to pair it up with next time... I googled for brussel sprouts recipes, and came across this one. Its really simple and easy, and the ingredients are staples in every kitchen. It turned out really good! Here goes:

Roasted Brussel Sprouts 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.


I thought these tasted like potato chips. Especially those leaves that fell off the sprouts, and after I removed them from the oven, they were so crunchy. I could eat these like chips all day. When you roast it the leaves get alittle crispy and when you bite it, it becomes like a chip. I'm thinking of cutting the sprouts into halves next time so hopefully it will turn out even more crunchy, and we can munch on it while watching movies. Talk about healthy living! ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe; Five Spice Beef & Pepper Stir Fry.

Yikes! Been lazing for a long while. Its been awhile since I gave my body a good workout. I need to workout a sweat. But at the same time, my body has been aching, I've been getting headaches, and I'm feeling tired all the time. Its a bad sign of a over-lazing body. Either that, or maybe I've been feeding my body too much recently, now that I'm always excited to try new recipes.

Last few days, I have been trying some old repeated recipes, Hubs says its always good to retry and retry until we get the perfect mix that we like. So I've done Sweet & sour pork on Monday. The taste is getting alittle better. We added more corn flour this time, to give it a better crisp.

Over the weekend, we headed out to Boise for Grand China Buffet ( a review will be coming up soon), and headed to Ross for some last minute shopping. I wanted to try to get some stuff for my Dad. We've bought stuff for most of the family except my Dad. I just didn't know what to get for him. He's birthday is coming up soon, and I still have no idea what is good for him. Hopefully something will catch my eye soon.

Here's the recipe for the Five Spiced Beef & Pepper stir fry which I cooked today for the guy's lunchbox.


Ingredients

  • Jasmine rice or short grain white rice, 1 to 1 1/2 cups, prepared to package directions
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock, paper container or canned
  • 2 tablespoons wok or clear oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin or beef tenderloin tips, trimmed, placed in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes then thinly sliced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry cooking sherry
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, eyeball the amount
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, found on Asian foods aisle of market
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup smoked whole almonds, available on snack aisle, for garnish

Directions

Boil water for rice and prepare to package directions.

Place beef broth in a small pot over low heat to warm the liquid.

Heat a wok shaped skillet or pan over high heat. Add oil (it will smoke) and meat bits. Stir-fry meat 3 minutes and remove from pan or move off to the side of the wok. Return pan to heat and add peppers and onions. Stir-fry veggies 2 minutes. Add meat back to the pan. Add sherry and stir fry until liquid almost evaporates about 1 minute. Add soy sauce to the pan. Dissolve cornstarch with a ladle of warm beef broth. Add beef broth to the pan, then add cornstarch combined with broth, the five-spice powder and black pepper. Stir sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasonings. Add more soy or salt if necessary. Remove stir-fry from heat. Fill dinner bowls with beef stir-fry and top with a scoop of rice. Scoop rice with ice cream scoop to get a rounded ball. By placing rice on top of stir-fry, rice will stay firm and not soak up too much sauce. Garnish with chopped scallions and smoked almonds.


Recipe taken from Food Network, Rachel Ray.

Taste test:
The sauce was a little thick and creamy for my liking, probably shouldn't have added too much corn starch. Didn't add enough black pepper, and needed more colour! I hate bell peppers, so I left them out. I might try this recipe again, with a light dose of sesame oil, and more five spiced powder. Oh, and be careful not to over cook the beef, and really cut them into thin slices. I hate problems chewing into my beef. =(

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yikes! Winter is coming??

The weather is super cold today. The aircon in the house is set to 77F, but when we woke up, its at 71F only. The floor was freaking freezing. No carpeting in our house. Lucky for me, I had my bedroom slippers on.

The locals here always tell us the weather in Idaho is always unpredictable. Winter came early last year. I read the news the first snowfall was in October. And being the first, its always heavier. I saw how the snow covered up houses, to the extent, some houses couldn't open their doors, due to the snow piling up on their front doors. Thankfully, we came in January, where snowfall was much lesser, to a certain extent, being the first experience of snow falling from the sky, we were sort of excited, and kind of enjoyed it.

This year, we'll be going through the entire winter. After experiencing the first time, can sort of expect what's to come. When we first landed, it was in freezing temps. We're talking below 0 degrees celsius. That lasted till March. And it was chilly till end of May. Our last snowfall of the last winter, was in May. The difference in the weather compared to Singapore, was huge. SG is being covered by islands and countries around it. We've been lucky. There's practically no wind in Singapore, just a slight breeze maybe, if you're near the beach.

When we say windy in Idaho, we're talking 40 miles per hour winds. That's 10 times the wind speed in SG. And that's not the max we have experienced. The husband, working on ground, outdoors, told me there's been 40 knots wind speeds before. Equivalent to 20 miles per second.

When we first arrived, and started shopping for our furniture and stuff, piling stuffs on our supermarket trolleys, I remembered how our boxes flew off in the wind. The entire plastic box practically flew out of our trolleys, over the cars in the carpark, and almost hit a woman. We were chasing after it. And it was very cold then. I wonder how this winter is going to be, I can feel it coming already. The summer heat has gone, and the wintry breeze is back.

I hope I have the strength to go through this winter, which I can feel its gonna be much worst than what I have went through earlier this year. Especially this time, with the husband going to be away for 3 weeks this time. Sigh. I will be strong.