10km Run (Round 4)

Every year, for the past three years, my mom, dad and I participate in the 10km run as part of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. This year was no different. I woke up this morning, got ready, slathered some peanut butter on toast, gobbled it up and was out of the door. The race started at 7:15 and fortunately, the sun really only came out towards the end of my run.

The first two years, I stuck with my mom, and we would walk, run, walk, run, walk, run in spurts. However, last year I was determined to finish in under and hour and decided to run with my dad. I was pretty sure I couldn't do it, but I truly surprised myself, finishing in 54:26!

This year, my goal was the same - under an hour, but the circumstance were different. Last week, I sprained my ankle, yesterday morning I stubbed my toe in karate and yesterday evening I had my school's annual biathlon (1 km swim + 2 km run = no easy feat!), so once again, an hour was looking tight. Nonetheless, I pushed through with my dad's support and we did it! 57:20 :) I am very proud of myself and must say that I truly couldn't have done it without my dad.

Thanks dad! I love you <3

After all of it, we went to the nearest Starbucks and ushered in the festive atmosphere by drinking our first peppermint mocha frappucinos of the year. Yum.

Here is a picture of the three of us after the run:


Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

I hope you listened to me when I told you to save the hollowed out bread from the egg boats (Shh..! I know it might be too late... but next time!). Anyways, even if you didn't, not to worry. Either go out and grab a loaf of airy, yet crusty bread - one that you would want to soak up in an eggy custard mixture and bake until it is full of gorgeous, aromatic deliciousness. 

The best thing is that it can be (needs to be!) prepped the night before, so all that needs to be done in the morning is to tuck the prepared dish into the oven... and wait. If you can.

This is like a decadent bread butter pudding for breakfast, yet its not guilt-inducing because the ingredients are all relatively "normal" and there's not a ton of sugar or butter in here.

Another reason you should definitely make this (soon) would be the fact that this is my mom's FAVORITE brunch dish, breakfast dish, bread butter pudding dish, french toast dish. Basically, she loovvveeeesssss it. And let me assure you, that's saying a lot! 

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast
A loaf of crusty bread, cut into 1" cubes
7 eggs
1 cup of milk (skim, low-fat or whole - whatever rocks your boat)
8 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon (I adore cinnamon, so cut back to 1 tbsp if you don't!)
1/3 cup of raisins (feel free to increase if you like raisins)
3 tbsp butter, melted

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread the melted butter on the bottom and sides of the dish, making sure to coat every bit. Sprinkle 4 tbsp of brown sugar on top. Layer half the bread cubes, followed by half of  the raisins. Repeat once again.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and remaining sugar. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes and tilt it around a bit to make sure that each piece has sponged up some of the custard-y mixture. Cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. 
Next morning: Preheat oven to 175 C. Bake uncovered for around 45 minutes, or until egg looks almost set and the bread has caramelized on top.

Serve hot with a dusting of powdered sugar and some maple syrup :)


Baked Egg Boats

Yup, this is still another recipe that I had made for my family brunch two weeks ago. My mom, sister and I have a huge sweet tooth and thus, all the sweet brunch options appeal to us. That leaves my dad hanging, so I always try and include at least one savory dish. We need it to cut the sweetness anyways. I came across this idea when I was browsing through savory brunch recipes, and it just clicked!

I wasn't sure what I was expecting out of it, but it blew my mind. All four of us throughly enjoyed it and it has become our favorite savory brunch/breakfast option. Even though this recipe is perfect for 4-5 people (in combination with other dishes, of course), it can easily be made a single portion by simply using a smaller bread bowl sort of thing.

Anyways, what this is is bread hollowed out, filled with a scrumptious mixture of eggs, milk, salt & pepper and customizable filling options. It is then topped with cheese and baked until the egg is cooked, cheese is browned and bread is hollowed. This recipe can be made healthy by using skim milk, less cheese and only vegetable fillings. I splurged a bit and used a hefty amount of cheese, regular milk and a bit of pepperoni. On the other hand, you can make it as indulgent as you wish by using cream in place of milk, several meat fillings and tons of cheese.

Baked Egg Boats
I unfortunately don't have exact measurements for this recipe, but below is a list of ingredients. I will put in parentheses the approximate amount I used, but only use it as a baseline. Use your own judgment and preferences to build your own egg boats.
-Crusty bread such as baguette, French or Batard (2 Batard loaves)
-Eggs (6-7)
-Milk (1/3 cup)
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Fillings (1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup sliced pepperoni, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cup sliced onion)
-Cheese (3/4 cup grated)
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Take the bread and scoop out the center (save the hollowed out bits for later - to make baked french toast, bread crumbs, anything really). Beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Mix in the fillings and pour the mixture into the hollowed out bread loaves. Top with cheese and place in the oven for 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 3 minutes and slice into thick garlic bread-type slices. It's as simple and delicious as that! Enjoy!
Finished product just before slicing. Ignore the dripped cheese!


Out-of-the-World Cinnamon Rolls (No yeast!)

Sorry I've been gone for so long. I've just been catching up with a ton of stuff from school and swimming is super fun and exciting, but tiring at the same time. Anyways, these are the cinnamon rolls from that brunch I made a few weeks ago. Here goes.

These cinnamon rolls require NO waiting, NO proofing and NO rising. And they are absolutely fantastic: moist, ooey, gooey, cinnamon-y goodness. The dough is made with part skim ricotta cheese and low fat buttermilk, so are much much healthier than any regular cinnamon rolls recipe. To be honest, they beat Cinnabon any day (and the whole experience is very similar, actually).

I added pecans to half the rolls, because my sister strongly dislikes nuts, but my mom and I LOVE pecans in cinnamon rolls, so why not?

Even though the ingredient list may look long, the recipe is super easy to throw together, and they taste absolutely fantastic with a healthy slather of cream cheese frosting. I mean come on, what's a cinnamon roll without cream cheese frosting?

Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from dontforgetdelicious.com)
Makes around 12 medium-sized rolls
For the Dough
3/4 cup park skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

For the Filling
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Skim milk, as needed
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 200°C. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the ricotta cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (please please please don’t over process). The dough will be soft and moist.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into an (approximately!) 12×15-inch rectangle.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface. Pour the pecans onto one half of the area of the dough.

Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

With a sharp knife or string, cut the roll into equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the rolls, and transfer them to a serving plate.

In a small bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. Add milk if needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread or drizzle onto warm rolls. Let stand 10 minutes (or as long as you can wait!) and savor.


Rainbow Fruit Salad

Today was a public holiday here in Singapore, so I decided to make brunch for my family. The menu included a fruit salad, cinnamon rolls, baked french toast and egg boats. My next few posts will be all about these delectable brunch dishes. First up, the fruit salad! Feel free to customize it using any fruit you want, but make sure you have an assortment of colors to make it look pretty. It is mixed with a light, refreshing lemon honey sauce just to tie all the fruit flavors together. It's a healthy, vitamin-filled breakfast, snack or dessert. Fold in some vanilla yogurt or ice cream for a light and delicious dessert. 
Rainbow Fruit Salad
Makes 4 Servings
1/2 a pint of blueberries
a bunch of grapes
1 pint of strawberries
1/2 a pineapple
1 orange
2 green kiwis

1 lemon
3 tsp. honey
** Remember to sub-in and -out whatever fruits your palate desires.

Wash and dry all the fruit. Cut all into bite sized pieces and place into a large serving bowl. Mix together the juice of one lemon and the honey. Pour the juice onto the fruit and give it a good mix. Place in the fridge for and hour or so to let the flavors meld. Serve chilled.
You may be wondering why there' s no kiwi pictured, 
and it's because my sister absolutely despises kiwis. 
Once I served her a bowl, I mixed it in but completely 
forgot to take another photo!


Chicken Rollatini with Spinach

Don't you just feel great when something turns out better than expected? And easier even? That's how it was with this recipe, which I adapted from www.skinnytaste.com. Gina's recipes are fantastic AND healthy... the perfect combination.

Anyways, back to the chicken rollatini. This is actually a super easy dish to put together and is really an all in one - the protein from the chicken, the veggies and cheese! Yum. And it was. All you need are a few basic ingredients, most of which can be substituted by whatever you have lying around in your pantry.

The chicken is just melt-in-your-mouth tender, has the most amazing flavor and serves as a perfect meal. It's baked chicken, stuffed with spinach and cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs and topped with pomodoro sauce and more cheese. It's a dish I can guarantee your family will love and works well for hosting a crowd!

Chicken Rollatini with Spinach
8 chicken breasts, pounded thin
3 cups fresh spinach, squeezed dry
4 triangles Laughing Cow cheese
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar/mozzarella
1/2 cup seasoned italian breadcrumbs
1 cup pomodoro sauce or your favorite marinara sauce
2 small eggs, beaten
**Note: Apart from the chicken breasts, you may not end up using ALL of the rest of the ingredients, depending on how much of the filling, breadcrumbs, sauce and cheese you wish to use. 
Chop the spinach into small strands and mix with 1 cup of the cheddar/mozzarella and Laughing Cow cheese. Use a fork to break up the laughing cow cheese and make sure the mixture has equal bits of all three ingredients in all parts.
Take large pinchful of the spinach stuffing mixture and flatten it out on the chicken breasts. Loosely roll the chicken breasts.
Take the rolled chicken breasts and dunk in the eggs and coat them in the breadcrumbs. Put the crusted chicken in a baking plate, seam side down. Bake in a preheated oven of 230 C for 18 minutes.
Pull the chicken out of the oven and quickly top with the sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Place it back in the oven and bake for 5-ish minutes, or until the cheese has melted and slightly browned.
Remove from the oven and enjoy! It's great served with a side of salad, potatoes, greens, garlic bread, or even a bit of pasta. To be honest, it is delicious just by itself.


What to do with Leftover Soybean Pulp - Make Muffins Of Course!

Over the past ten years, I have acquired a taste for soy milk, as it is something sold all over town here in Singapore. Of all the soy milk flavors, my favorite is almond because it has that slightly nutty, slightly sweet taste to it and is just so dreamy smooth...mmm!

Anyways, that's not really the point. Have you ever wondered what to do with all that leftover pulp (after making soy milk) that seems like it has so much goodness in it and that you really don't want to see go to waste? Well, they do say that great minds think alike! What I mean to say is that yes, I too felt the same way, so I ventured out for some tips. It seems as though other people have worked out ways to use this soybean pulp, called okara. It can be used in most baked goods to replace some flour and some moisture.

My favorite okara recipe is this carrot/banana/raisin breakfast muffins. As with all recipes, feel free to omit some bits and/or add in some of your own. Ex. substitute the carrot with apple, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato even.

These are just delish and you would never know that it even has the okara... not that it should matter anyways. They don't taste healthy at all and are packed with protein! How could you get a better combo?

Carrot Okara Muffins (recipe adapted from http://www.justasdelish.com/carrot-okara-muffin/)
Makes 10 Muffins

1 cup wet okara (soybean pulp leftover from making soymilk)
1/8 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup carrots - grated
2 bananas - mashed 

1½ cup flour
¼ cup baby oats 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon all spice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
½ cup raisins, optional

Preheat your oven to 175°C. Fill your muffin tray with 10 paper liners. Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Sift dry ingredients in a larger mixing bowl. Pour wet ingredients, walnuts and raisins into dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Trust me here: do not overmix. Spoon the batter into the liners until almost full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly brown or until a toothpick test comes out clean. Depending on the wetness of your okara, the baking times might be slightly different. Wait for them to cool and happy snacking!

Please please pleaseee leave me a comment below if you do try these - let me know what you think!

P.S. Don't forget to like the Strawberry Chocolate Concoction Facebook Page for tips, recipes and updates: https://www.facebook.com/StrawberryChocolateConcoction!
The banana was an afterthought (ie. after I saw a bunch of super overripe bananas on my counter), which is why they aren't pictured here.
No. Your eyes aren't deceiving you. Yes. There are only 9 muffins. I had to eat one as soon at is was just cool enough to be eaten. Yum-my!


Yoga to Improve Lifestyle

I'm sure you all have heard of yoga and its physical and psychological benefits. Let me assure you: they are all true, for the most part. For the past year, or so, my family and I have had a private yoga class for the four of us every Sunday morning at 9:45 am. I admit, for the first few classes, I found yoga a total drag. It took up an hour and a half of my morning and I didn't feel like I was getting anything out of it. Boy, was I wrong!

Now, every Sunday, I look forward to that yoga class. For one, I love love love stretching: I feel so fresh and energized. Secondly, it gives me a lot of time to think. Lastly, it really gives me a chance to de-stress and calm down a bit (if I need it!).


Delicious Dishes in Denmark

First of all, sorry I've been so MIA lately. School and college stuff is taking over my life. Anyways, I took one major step today and have submitted my main UK applications. I definitely feel relieved and am ready to work on the next step of my applications, as well as focus on progressing my life and leaving enough time to have some fun.

In all of this, I happened to remember summer and the super carefree mind I had a few months ago. Nostalgic about summer, I was glancing through some of my pictures and came across two that I had taken in Copenhagen, Denmark:
On the left is a picture of the dish I ordered, when my family and I decided to try out typical Danish cuisine. The whole experience was absolutely amazing and my one day in Copenhagen is tied for first place as the best day of summer. The meal was fantastic - the food, the setting (riverside!), the weather and most of all, the company. My family is the best, and I would never ever want anybody to replace them. Anyways, you may be wondering what we ate - Smorrebrod! Smorrebrod is a Scandinavian open-faced sandwich served with either thick white bread or dark rye bread. Toppings range from roast beef, steaks, boiled eggs, vegetables, shrimp, smoked salmon, fish, chicken salad. Let's be honest here; the options could go on forever. What I ordered was supposedly "strips of beef with caramelized onions and a fried egg". The description was accurate for the most part, but the beef was more like a super succulent and flavorful hamburger patty. Whatever it was, it was tasty and filling. My dad went for boiled eggs, with boiled shrimp, mayo and asparagus while my mom chose the fillet of fish option. My sister wasn't overly enterprising and stuck to traditional fish and chips - nevertheless, her choice was just as impressive.

Following the great lunch, we went for an hour-long canal cruise to see Copenhagen in a nutshell. Once the cruise was over, we stopped at the cutest and probably, busiest bakery in Copenhagen. I sure know why it was so crowded - the pastries and treats were to die for. My mom and I shared a strawberry-chocolate fruit tart and this berry marzipan cake on the right. The clear winner was this slice of cake: melt-in-the-mouth buttery vanilla cake, with cream and berry filling, topped with fresh berries and an exclusive marzipan edging. My mouth waters just thinking about it. All this food was clearly satisfying and gave us a boost of energy, so we headed off to Tivoli Gardens to explore more of Copenhagen.

Overall it was a fantastic day, filled with fantastic memories, food and people.


Super Duper Yummy Ice Cream Pie (No-bake and guilt-free!)

This raw banana ice cream pie is a creamy, dreamy, refreshing, utterly satisfying post-dinner treat. I mean, come on, who doesn't love dessert? About a year ago, I discovered a secret that changed my world... but really.
For the "ice cream":
Now, if you don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest you pay VERY close attention. Here is a method by which to make "ice cream" without an ice cream maker, with just one ingredient (maybe 2!) and which is totally healthy. Take one or more bananas (you need three medium sized ones for this recipe) and chop it/them up into coins. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely frozen. Place the frozen banana slices in a food processor. If you want the ice cream to be reasonably sweet, add some agave nectar, maple syrup, honey or brown sugar. Power it up and give it a good whirl (3 mins or so) until the bananas go from huge chunks to a crumbly mess to a beautiful frozen yogurt consistency. At this point, you could serve the banana "ice cream" immediately, freeze for a more ice cream like texture, or create a whole new dessert, as I will show you with the following ice cream pie.
Variations are numerous:
- cocoa powder
- any other frozen fruit
- peanut or any other nut butter
- chocolate chips/m&m's/marshmallows
- anything that tickles your fancy

For the pie crust (makes 4 individual servings):
Take approximately half a cup of almonds and a bit more than half a cup of pitted dates. I soaked my almonds in water and peeled off the skins as I have read that the skin is actually an inhibitor and prevents your body from absorbing the health benefits. I roasted my almonds in the oven for 5 minutes to enhance the nutty flavor and crisp them up a bit. Soak the dates in warm water for half an hour and drain. Once the almonds and dates are prepared as you wish, whip out your food processor again and let the almonds process until they are small chunks or like a powder, depending on your preference. Dump in the dates and process again until it forms a clumpy paste. There - it's done!

Assembling the pie:
Take four serving bowls and press down a layer of the pie crust. Here's where I was a bit naughty. I put a nice dollop of chocolate peanut butter and spread it on top of the pie crust (skip this if you want to keep it completely "clean"). Use a spatula and spread the banana ice cream on top of the crust or peanut butter and freeze for two hours until set.

Take the pie of the freezer approximately two minutes before serving so that all the components have time to soften just the slightest bit.
Relish the goodness!


Versatile Breakfast Parfait

My choice for this morning: green kiwi, almonds, dates, greek honey yogurt, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soaked oats.... the options are never-ending.
Easy, delicious, nutritious breakfast for everyone and will power you through till lunch! Can be prepped the night before or even put together at the last minute. I can't really call it a recipe; it's more like a method, an art, if you like..
So here goes, you can really put anything (within limits!) and layer it in a glass or bowl and call it a parfait. I have listed numerous options that you can then choose from and layer in any proportion and layer that you wish.

For the Breakfast Parfait
- cranberries, raisins, chopped dates, apricots or any dried fruit, really
- fresh fruits: everything and anything rolls. [my favorites: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, bananas]

- regular milk, soy milk, almond milk
- fruit-flavored yogurt
- greek yogurt (plain or flavored)

- homemade granola
- store-bought granola
- rolled oats pre soaked in milk, yogurt or water

- honey, agave, maple syrup

Nuts and Seeds
- flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
- almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts
- toasted coconut

Other Toppings
- nut butter
- pumpkin puree
- applesauce
- chocolate chips (shhh. I won't tell!)
- dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder

Get designing and relish your own customized breakfast!


Running with Friends - Always Fun!

Today we had no school. Whee! Nah. School's great.. Anyways, I was up bright and early to go running with my friend who lives in the apartment building right next to mine. We went for a short, 30 minute run and didn't even end up running the whole thing, but who cares? The only bad part was this lousy Singaporean humidity - don't get me wrong, I love Singapore; but the weather? Eh. Not so much. I was dripping in sweat and my shirt was soaked. Ah, the glory..

Moving on, we got a sorta-workout and did some chatting and catching up (always important). Two in one! Sometimes, it's not only about the workout itself, but the environment and the experiences. So if I have a chance to run with my friend, I'm gonna grab it no matter what the impact is on the workout.

Even better if you can get 100% effectiveness from both aspects - a hardcore workout and fun times with friends.

Basically, the gist of the post is that working out with friends is immensely more satisfying, motivational and downright fun. Once in a while, I encourage you to grab a friend (or few), get some fresh air, push each other and go for a run. 

My Average Daily Workout

On a school day, I don't really have much time to spend doing non-academic stuff - ie. watch TV, go shopping (not that you would expect this) and the same applies to exercising. On such days, when I have limited time, this means that I need to squeeze in a decent-intensity workout into around 45 minutes. I have followed this plan of going down to the gym for about 45 minutes every weekday for the last month and it has worked perfectly. The workout is short enough that I am not spending too much time in the gym, yet long enough to get my heart rate up and keep me fit... and that's why I love it. It took weeks of experimenting and trial to find a routine that worked for me and one that I wouldn't get bored of.

Recently, I have started listening to music when I workout (I never used to!) and realized that it really helps me keep focused and motivated. Also, science has proven that the beat of the music keeps your motion and rhythm and takes your mind of your breath (panting..). I have made a playlist with 10 songs that work for me and it comes to just about 45 minutes. This routine has set in so well that going to the gym is actually a great relieve from school work and I'm genuinely excited to get moving and sweaty.

The Workout:
20 minutes on the treadmill (around 3.5km)
15 minutes on the stationary bike (2 minutes high resistance; 2 minutes low resistance - then keep repeating)
5 minutes - 1)weights and arm strength 2)alternate with rowing every other day
5 minutes - ab/core workout

It gives a whole body workout and leaves you feeling re-energized and packs in a boosting punch.
Hope it works for you! Please leave me a comment if you have any other ideas and as always, there's absolutely no need to follow my formula exactly and vary it as you like so that you feel the same energy and motivation as I do!


My Mom's Tiramisu - Amazing.

I have been so busy lately – with school, dreaded college applications and other stuff, which you will read about in my next post – and have only gotten the chance to post this now. Last weekend, I downloaded all the episodes of “Suits: Season 2” and my family and I had a Suits marathon (5 episodes). Suits is the best! If you haven’t ever watched it, I would immediately make a plan to do so anytime now. It is super-addicting, super-awesome and I promise you’ll never be able to stop watching it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Back to the food! Obviously, for the night to be good, we had to have some yummylicious eats, so we made Mexican-themed cuisine and tiramisu. This consisted of a huge platter of nachos with cheese, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. As the main course, we had a mixture of corn, chicken and bean quesadillas. All this fantastic food was paired with lime margaritas (virgin for my sister and I, of course!).

Everything was homemade, including the tortillas, but I’ll only be sharing the recipe for the tiramisu. This is a classic recipe that we often make when hosting a dinner party. It is my mom’s recipe and undoubtedly the best tiramisu I have ever eaten. It is cinch to put together and tastes better on the next day, so it is the perfect dessert to make ahead of time. We made ours in a larger dish and just cut out individual squares. But if you want to enhance the presentation, make individually portioned tiramisus in glass serving bowls. Do remember, however, that this method takes significantly longer.

Also, make sure you use good quality strong coffee and kahlua. That is, if you desire the strong taste of both these essential flavors. As with all cooking, high-quality ingredients produce scrumptious results.  

Classic Tiramisu
250g mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 egg, separated 
1/4 cup sugar
32 ladyfinger biscuits
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled 
liquor/Kahlua to taste
cocoa powder for serving
Gather together all of your ingredients. 
Add the sugar to the egg yolk and beat till frothy. Add mascarpone and beat well. Fold in the whipped cream. Beat the egg white in a separate bowl and fold that in, too. 
Begin the layering process. First mix in the liquor into the cooled coffee. Dunk the lady fingers into the coffee mixture and let them soak for 1-2 seconds (just to absorb the flavor and moisture). Organize the ladyfingers on the bottom of the serving dish. Once fully covered, spoon the cream mixture on top until it forms a uniform layer. Dust with cocoa powder. Repeat this process, but don't dust with cocoa powder this time. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight; the longer it sets, the more the flavors will settle and fuse together, bringing out a wonderful taste and texture. Finish with a sifting of cocoa powder just before serving. 

Classics are best kept simple and elegant, so the only addition I would suggest is a few berries by the side. Always remember, there is no need to overdo an already perfect dish. It is best consumed within three days, but it probably won't last that long anyways, so no need to worry! Last, but definitely not least, enjoy :)


The Ever-Famous Flour Bakery in Boston

Last summer, my family and I drove around the East Coast of the USA, touring colleges and catching a glimpse of a part of the USA we had not visited before. As an avid viewer of Food Network, I came across Flour Bakery and Cafe, which was mentioned on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Flour bakery is a small chain started by Harvard graduate Joanna Chang, who also now happens to be one of my inspirations after I went to Flour and read more about her. Once I knew we were coming to Boston, I was determined to do whatever it took to come and find this little place. After over an hour of walking, we arrived at one of their three locations. It was afternoon and the perfect time for a little sweet pick-me-up treat. 

I am in love with fruit tarts, so naturally, I chose the fruit tart. However, it was a tough decision between the fruit tart and their sticky buns (speciality) that were shown on Food Network. I do, still, have a picture of the gooey, caramel-y, decadent sticky buns, because my mom chose them. Covered in pecans and an excess of sticky sauce, these sticky buns are to die for and a must have. As for the fruit tart, they were good for someone like me who loves fruit tarts, but were not the best option on the menu, so do make sure you try the sticky buns if you ever make it to Flour Bakery.
We throughly enjoyed our first experience, so two days later, we headed to one of their other locations, where we ate lunch. The salmon and cream cheese sandwich I ate was, hearty, scrumptious and mouth-watering just like everything on their menu. Long story short: GO VISIT FLOUR BAKERY. You will thank me!


Cranberry Loaf

This aromatic cranberry bread gives off the most amazing smell when baking. Your home is sure to smell like a wonderful combination of cranberries and orange juice. I love eating this cranberry bread as a snack in school or after I come back home.

It is super simple, nutritious and can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.

Cranberry Bread
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder, divided
3 1/2 tbsp neutral oil, divided
1 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of the oil and mix to coat the dry ingredients. Add the orange zest and dried cranberries. The flour mixture should completely coat the zest and cranberries. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the remaining oil, water and baking powder. Add the orange juice to this mixture. Pour the wet ingredients and maple syrup onto the dry flour mixture and stir just enough to combine all ingredients. Do not overmix. Pour into a loaf baking dish lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

As always, this is best served warm but really tastes good at any temperature and at any time of the day.  Serve it with a pat of butter, jam, a glass of milk or a cup of tea/coffee. Eat it for breakfast, tea or just sneak a slice when you're in the mood.


Best Soft Serve on the Planet

This summer, my dear family and I embarked on a journey to explore the Scandinavian region... In Bergen, Norway, I was introduced to undoubtedly the best soft serve ice cream that could ever exist. Called Softies in that part of the world, this soft serve is out of this world - it has a super-duper creamy consistency, the perfect sweetness and just the right amount of vanilla flavor. The best part, however, were the topping options that came with these softies (oh, and the fact that the serving size is absolutely humongous - which is just even better!). The toppings ranged from hot fudge, to sprinkles, nougat, caramelized nuts, crispy butterscotch, licorice, peppermint, chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder and many more. They do not skimp with the toppings either; in fact, each softie is rolled around in the topping so that the entire exterior of the softie is coated in the topping(s) of your choice. We spent three days in Bergen, and I ate a softie on every one of these days. Below are my three creations :)
A softie with butterscotch and cocoa. 
A softie with sprinkles. Let me assure you: these are no ordinary sprinkles. 
Now, let's be honest; regular sprinkles look nice and add color to any dessert, but they lack flavor.
Not these sprinkles - they are fabulous: sweet, crunchy and completely unique.
A softie with caramelized nuts and hot fudge. 

No, I can't pick out my favorite because all three were genuinely awesome. But one thing's for sure - they beat any other soft serve any day. (Also note the cool colored spoons). If you ever venture out here, you don't need to go searching for these softies - they are served at any ice cream or coffee store and even at mini-marts. This does not mean they are not special - DO NOT underestimate them in any way.