Monday, July 10, 2017

Baker's Corner: Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies


I am a self-confessed chronic lurker on Instagram. It is solely food that I stalk with an unshakable obsession. What else can I say folks - good old-fashioned food porn is what I seek! ๐Ÿ˜‚ For starter cooks, IG is a reservoir of basic and easy cooking videos and recipes and for the more experienced cooks, it is a great platform to get introduced to complex and luxe dishes using fancy ingredients. For me, most of the inspiration to try out new recipes comes from there.

So, one day, I saw these gorgeous Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies on the feed of The Kitchn and it was love at first sight! It appeared like a work of art and the colors and textures just made perfect sense to me. Brownies are always in huge demand in my home, I love cheesecake in any form and after raspberries, blackberries are my favourite kind of berry. So of course I was going to try this recipe!



I was up relatively early on a Saturday morning. I peeked into my kids room and was relieved to note that they were still sound asleep. I headed to the kitchen and got started on making these brownies. The recipe turned out to be undemanding and even at my own leisurely pace, I was done with making the blackberry puree, the brownie layer and the cheesecake layer by the time they started to stir. After that, they of course wanted to see what the fuss was in the kitchen and "help" me finish (what they described as) the "cake" ๐Ÿ˜„ I did the swirling of the blackberry puree over the cheesecake layer as my girls intently watched over me (with rather unhelpful inputs may I add) so I didn't do a very good job of it ๐Ÿ˜› Next time I'll take a better stab at it (literally speaking!). 

The brownies met my expectations in terms of taste. I felt like the chocolate brownie layer would be too intensely chocolatey for the kids but oh-no! They polished off one and then immediately demanded for another one. Since that day, they have been eager to finish their dinner so that they can eat a small piece of "byownie" for dessert ๐Ÿ˜‚  It is safe to say that they liked it very much indeed ๐Ÿ˜Š The husband didn't have any negative critique so I was glad to have tried this recipe out for myself.

If you are a fan of anything chocolate as well as cheesecake then this dessert will have to go on your to-do list right away. Go make folks!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Recipe of the month: Corn Koftas in Palak (Spinach) Gravy - A Guest Post by Amritha

I haven't been able to devote a lot of time towards formulating new recipe posts lately. Not due to the lack of cooking really. It's just that I haven't had the time for all the other stuff that goes with it! I thought that dialling back on the use of social media (which I have been sincerely trying to do) would have left me with a lot more time on my hands but oddly that hasn't happened ๐Ÿ˜•

I always rely on my ever-dependable husband to bail me out whenever I find myself falling short of recipes. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't do that as his last guest post wasn't too long ago. The idea for this guest post came from my sister. Like most families, we have a string of WhatsApp groups where we share everything under the sun ๐Ÿ˜  One of those groups is dedicated solely to culinary pursuits and that is the one I am most interested in (for obvious reasons!). So, my SIL, Amritha, shared this recipe along with positive feedback and it caught most of our attention immediately.

I love anything and everything to do with spinach and well, koftas, what can I say - I can eat those bad boys all on their own in a single sitting! Give me a kofta-based curry and I'd shamelessly ask for an entire basket of Indian flatbread and then maybe some more ๐Ÿ˜

My SIL, although several years younger than me has been pretty close to me ever since her foray into our family. Pediatrician - bharatanatyam dancer - classical singer - fashionista - cooking and baking enthusiast - this girl wears many hats with ease! My kids love her to bits as do we all ๐Ÿ’— So when my sister planted this idea in my head, without any hesitation I asked Amritha if she could re-create the same recipe for my blog. Being the sweetheart that she is, she agreed immediately with cheery enthusiasm. She doesn't have a blog of her own (which considering how multi-talented she is, she really should!) so she is sharing this platform with me to bring you this wonderful recipe.

My family back home gave this recipe a huge thumbs up and although I didn't have the good fortune of tasting it myself, I'm pretty sure it was legit. This recipe has ingredients that are commonly available in any Indian kitchen, comes together easily, has the goodness of spinach and looks very appetizing. Soft melt-in-the-mouth koftas served in an aromatic, vibrant and luscious gravy is an irresistible dish that will have your family or guests licking their fingers. Thank you Amritha for doing this for me! I owe you big time  ๐Ÿ™

So, please show my sistah some love and head to the kitchen to make this side dish for yourself. I need to do it too and pronto! You can catch my latest updates on Facebook or Instagram.

Till next time! ๐Ÿ™‹

Sunday, June 25, 2017

All-Girls Weekend Trip to Batam, Indonesia


Everyone knows the purpose of going on a holiday right? It helps you relax, unwind and recharge those drained out batteries. Now what about the increasing global trend of girls-only trips? Trips taken with your girlfriends/BFFs/gal pals/tribe....whatever you want to call it. This one is (unsurprisingly) being backed by medical science as beneficial for a woman's mental, emotional and physical well-being. A complete no-brainer if you ask me! 




Being away from the humdrum of daily life, be it work, managing a household, chasing after the kids or doing routine chores, taking a holiday with girlfriends can bring some much-needed respite and make the spirits soar. Taking a holiday with BFFs is all about celebrating life – all the adventures past and all the adventures to come. Not to mention, with girlfriends, you have plenty of time and opportunity to do all the things you want which the menfolk may not necessarily be interested in. It may sound like stereotyping but take a couple of instances - spending the day at the spa, window shopping and scouting for good deals, using the camera like a machine gun, upping your insta game or taking funny videos on boomerang (any other Instagram addicts here?), giggling at the silliest of things, watching a romcom late into the night or going for a dip in the pool is something a guy may not enjoy. On your women-only holiday, you can do all the things that you want to guilt and judgement-free!

Are you sold on it yet ladies? 

Going on an all-girls trip was kind of on my bucket list so it was bound to happen. I might even make it an annual "thing" now! ๐Ÿ˜  I'll have to admit, it wasn't easy zeroing on the date since six full-time working professionals (each leading a busy life) with limited holiday leave aren't likely to be available at the exact same time. Being the only mom in my group of friends, the thought of ducking out on my family (even if it was just for a weekend), made me feel bad. But in the end, I convinced myself that I deserved a break. I knew I would come back relaxed and jaunty and everyone knows that a happy mom makes a happy home! So I pushed the guilt aside and prepared to leave the husband and children to fend for themselves. Wait....who am I kidding? It took several days of meticulous planning, advance grocery shopping, deciding the menu for the weekend, giving specific recipe instructions to my domestic helper and scheduling kids activities before I was ready to head out. And despite everything my heart did feel heavy as I kissed the little ones goodbye. Oh well....it's all part of the motherhood package! 





Located only 20km from Singapore and 25km from Johor in Malaysia, Batam in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago is a popular weekend getaway from the two neighbouring countries. Apart from its close proximity to Singapore, this small island is frequented by visitors because of its quiet beaches, smattering of family-friendly resorts, golf courses, discounted shopping and vibrant nightlife.



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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kidzland Indoor Playground at the Grandstand, Singapore

I can't digest the fact that after more than a decade of living in Singapore, I was finally able to make my way to The Grandstand. The amusing part being that when I did, it was at the behest of my kids!

Engulfed by lush greenery within one of Singapore’s most elite neighbourhoods, The Grandstand is an expansive lifestyle destination. The foodie that I am, my main motivation to visit had been PasarBella, a gourmet paradise tucked away in a family, lifestyle and dining enclave. To put it simply - PasarBella is a farmers market. One of my closest friends in Singapore had highly recommended going there on many occasions but it never came about.

When the day finally arrived, there was another reason for us to go which was to keep the kids engaged for a major part of the day. My parents were in Singapore and we wanted to take the kids out to someplace they would enjoy. Kidzland is one of the largest themed and integrated indoor children playground and family entertainment centre located at The Grandstand. Suitable for children aged between 2 to 10 years of age, this huge space packed with abundant activities is guaranteed to entertain the little critters!

After my kids were done grabbing a quick bite at PasarBella (while I was going around gawking at the fresh produce!), we headed over to Kidzland. It was just after opening hours on a weekday morning so we were fortunate not to encounter too much crowd during the whole time we were there. 



It was our first visit to Kidzland and thus we were non-members. The membership offered at Kidzland is free. How it works it that first, you have to register your child at the counter. You will then be given a card and you have to top-up money into the card (either $50 or $100). This stored value card then gets tapped at each station and the relevant amount of money gets deducted. If you run out of money, top up the card again. Simple enough right?

Adults entering the centre will be charged S$5 for the second and subsequent adults/guardians.

I don't know the reason but the process of registration seemed to take eternity. That was my only gripe with our experience at Kidzland. For those who don't have their own mode of transport, another could be that The Grandstand is not easily accessible by public transport so taking a cab would be the most convenient option. Anyway, moving on, once the initial formalities were over with, it was time to get in on the action! The kids had already been running around the games arcade exploring every nook and corner until then. The blinding colors and dazzling lights had done their job to keep them engaged for a while. But they were too young to really comprehend the games (that are typically catered to kids aged 4 to 10 in my opinion).

The Forest
This jungle-themed indoor soft playground is the prime play area for toddlers. It consists of 3,000 sqf of playing structures including a giant rainbow net, climbing structures, a swing, slide, merry-go-round, soft shooting & a mini rock climbing wall.

Know that all children and parents (or guardians) must wear socks and Kidzland wristbands before entering The Forest. Also be aware that re-entry is allowed for that day which means that young visitors can enter to play, exit to grab lunch at The Grandstand, and then go back in again to continue to play to their heart's content, within a day. 



My 2.5 year old toddlers were quite taken with the psychedelic rainbow net but they were too young to truly enjoy it. They did climb up and bounce a bit but after a while the novelty wore off and they wanted to explore the more age-appropriate play areas. 



They absolutely loved the giant three-lane slide and one of my twins in particular went on it about 50 times even though the ascent to the top was inundated with obstacles!