Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad by Perfect Italiano

I’d like to consider myself a very domestic person.

Sure, I love a good night out with my friends, but more than anything, I think I enjoy house parties the best. Cooking up a feast at a comfortable homely environment, have your friends gather around the dining table or couch, enjoying good home cooked food while chatting and laughing over some drinks… Now, I’ll take that over a night out almost any day. So you can imagine that cooking is honestly one of my favoritest things to do in the world!

I know many people find cooking a chore, but I find it to be one of the most satisfying tasks I can accomplish on a day-to-day basis because it provides me instant gratification. You get to be creative, share the love with your friends by feeding their hungry tummies, enjoy delicious food cooked to your own preferences and of course, flaunt your kitchen skills and impress people! What I DON’T like, however, is the mad rush to get everything prepped right before a big dinner party.. Last weekend, I was tasked to cook for a party that had approximately 20 people, and that kinda intimidated me a little bit! I’m used to cooking for 2-6 people, or perhaps even up to 8 or 10, but 20 pax is a whole different ball game. I needed to do various dishes that complemented each other and tasted great, yet not too difficult to achieve as I’ll be the main one executing them. I came up with this Summer Pasta Salad recipe which got a great response from people, with some even requesting to bring back the leftovers, so I take that as a good sign!

Summer Pasta Salad

This makes a good light lunch or a fantastic side dish to go with meats or heavier main items. But what I like most about it is that it can be made hours in advance, just chuck it in the fridge or leave it out in an air conditioned room and it’s all ready for your guests to dig into as soon as they arrive!

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 200g chicken sausages, sliced
  • 150g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 200g sour cream
  • 100g coleslaw veg, chopped
  • 200g boiled egg, diced
  • 350g cooked macaroni
  • 3 avocados, mashed
  • 1 yellow / white onion, chopped
  • a good splashing / 4 tablespoons of japanese sesame dressing & olive oil
  • 100g Perfect Italiano Mozzarella
  • Perfect Italiano Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil eggs until stiff, then deshell them.
  2. Cook macaroni pasta in boiling water for about 7 minutes or until al dente, then drizzle a bit of olive oil over the pasta to prevent sticking, and set aside.
  3. Stir fry chicken sausages, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and onions until cooked.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss together all the cooked ingredients, fresh ingredients and mozzarella together, until well combined.
  5. Give a further splashing of sesame dressing on top.
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs and Perfect Italiano Parmesan cheese.
  7. Toss in fridge or leave out in a cool temperature room, and serve cold!

I love this pasta salad. It’s as versatile as you want it to be! Make it meat-free for a vegetarian option. You can include or take away any ingredients according to your preferences, but keep the sour cream, dressing, cheese, and pasta because that will be your base recipe to work with. I’m a very casual and fuss-free cook, so I prefer using recipes that do not require exact measurements

. I like to make it up as I go, depending on my mood. I’ve made several variations of this recipe, other times including corn kernels, chicken breast to substitute the sausages, and replaced the avocados with pesto sauce – they were all mighty delicious! I named this summer pasta salad because of all the fresh ingredients it uses, and I reckon this would be perfect served up at a summer picnic or BBQ! Or in Singapore, where you know, it’s perpetually summer around here.

I think the key to this pasta salad lies in the sour cream base. Many pasta salads use mayonnaise which I find to be a bit thicker and heavier. I feel that pasta salads should be kept light, and refreshing!

Of course, the addition of Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Cheese gives a nice subtle texture & bite to the dish, and the sesame dressing lends a sweetness because the sour cream doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own. I like to garnish with Perfect Italiano Parmesan Cheese for that sharp, savory hint of cheese as well. You can keep this salad in the fridge for up to 2 days.

I can always count on Perfect Italiano’s range of cheeses to dress up my home cooking, turning otherwise boring dishes into something different and tantalizing! My life would never be the same without cheese. I think I’ve lost count of the number of cheese-related recipes I’ve posted on this blog.

I hope you guys have enjoyed looking at or recreating them, as I always try to come up with different recipes that aren’t too similar, to show you that cheese can really be used in a huuuge selection of recipes! One ingredient, tons of uses. That’s why I almost always have a packet of Perfect Italiano cheese in my fridge, no matter the time of year!

Available at leading supermarkets, visit Perfect Italiano’s official website for more cheesy ideas to experiment in your kitchen with, and don’t forget to hashtag your own homemade creations using #PerfectItalianoSG on Instagram!

xoxo,
Jess

Decluttering at EBC Self Storage

You know what I considered to be one of the most stressful & challenging tasks I had to complete in 2015?

Moving out of a 1.5k sqft rental home in November. Thank the heavens for I had immense help from someone close to me, because there’s no way I could handle it all by myself. There’s just so much to take into account when you’re moving a WHOLE HOUSE full of stuff, which roughly goes like this – sorting out your belongings, throwing away things you don’t need, pack your stuff into boxes, arrange for movers, thorough cleaning of the entire house, arrange for movers to come, hope they don’t break any of your stuff, more cleaning after moving is done, then finally handover to landlord and hope the agent and landlord are kind to you. Sounds simple enough? I assure you, it is anything but.

I found myself stuck in a huge dilemma. My lease for my Upper Thomson place ends in November, however, I needed somewhere to temporarily put my furniture (such as a coffee table, king sized bed, dining table, computer chair, drawers and shelves) for a couple of months until I move into my new rental place. Oh, the woes of a rental nomad!!!

I thought I would have to be forced into selling my furniture extremely cheap on Carousell while buying everything all over again after a few months for my new place, until someone suggested a brilliant idea – why not try out EBC Self Storage at 50 Tagore Lane? My friend Jessica aka Tippytapp told me about her personal experience at EBC Self Storage, where she kept her stocks for her fashion label Soigne, in order to de-clutter her home. I could totally relate with her about the frustration of having to step over supplies & carton boxes in your own living room when you try to run a business at home. It’s so disorganized, and I wouldn’t recommend it at all!

Absolutely excited, I called up EBC Self Storage the very next day, and just like that, my storage troubles were solved! What’s even more amazing is that EBC Self Storage was a mere one kilometer from my Upper Thomson place, making moving stuff there a breeze. SCORE!

EBC Self Storage houses more than 900 storage units.

It focuses on engaging long term relationships with business and personal users. Their rates are catered to allow significant discounts for long term usage. Personal storers can benefit from their competitive rates as the building is self owned. I checked around with different Self Storage providers, and indeed EBC Self Storage was one of the best!

The storage area is monitored by surveillance cameras, and you require a unique passcode to enter, so you can be sure that your belongings will be safe at all times! And because the storage is self-accessible, that means you have access to your items 24/7, every day and hour of the week!

No need to go through customer service or any hassle just to retrieve your items, which is a MASSIVE plus point to me.

My storage unit is located on the first floor, with full air conditioning and a pretty garden theme to boot. I was both surprised and impressed that they bothered to dress up the place for their customers, which goes a really long way – it makes the overall experience so much more pleasant and comfortable!

And here we are at my storage unit! You can purchase a lock from them, or bring your own.

Ready to see just how much stuff I own?!

My storage unit is SO OVERLOADED AND FULL that I couldn’t even take a proper photo of it!!!! This is mildly hilarious. Yes, everything belongs to me. Apart from obvious home furniture, I had many cake-related items which needed a temporary place to stay while I move into my retail store. Thank god I chose the largest unit they offer, because everything barely fits into one space!

EBC Self Storage caters to all sorts of usage and purposes – including personal storage, business storage, and even wine storage! From really small to large spaces of storage, you can turn to EBC Self Storage to solve your problems. You can request a non-obligatory quote from them before deciding if you’d like to move in.

So what exactly would normal everyday people like you and I need Personal Storage for? Well, here are a few common problems.

Sentimental Treasures
There are many treasures we just can’t bin – childhood toys, first walkmans, CDs that transport us to another time, and all the sentimental secrets we possess. Store them with EBC Self-Storage! Perhaps one day, you will be able to pass them to your special ones.

Moving / Renovation Depository
If you’re just in-between homes or are renovating your place, keep your furniture safe with EBC’s temporary storage space. Perfectly accessible 24-hours a day, so you can start your move whenever you wish.

Personal Collection/Artists/Hobbyists
“Get it out of the house! I can’t stand that thing!” – A familiar phrase for you? When your collection outgrows your home..

In a nutshell, these reasons are why I’m so happy to have found EBC Self Storage:

  • ACCESSIBLE 24/7: 24 hours / 7 days a week. You will have full access to your storage unit whenever you need to retrieve or store more.
  • TOP-NOTCH SECURITY: Personalised Security. Your personal access code or access card will enable you access into your space. Dates and timings of all entries will be recorded by our security system. The storage area is fully monitored by closed-circuit television and digitally recorded.
  • CLEAN, SPACIOUS & WELL-LIT: The highest level of hygiene is maintained to ensure your belongings are kept well. The facility is well lit to ensure you are able to find what you need any time of the day or night. EBC has fitted the building with the right infrastructure so no excessive heavy lifting is required.
  • FREE USE OF TROLLEYS: Trolleys are provided to help you cart your belongings with great ease.
  • EBC OWNS THE ENTIRE BUILDING: Since EBC owns the entire building, they have full control over their rent. EBC will never quote the rising costs of property as an excuse to raise prices.
  • VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR: EBC provide the most spacious cargo lifts, widest walkways, with the cleanest and safest storage facilities.
  • EBC IS MORE THAN A STORAGE PLACE: EBC is a lifestyle hub which encompasses facilities like a clubhouse, sky garden, childcare centre, retail shops, delicatessen and much more!

While exploring their spacious and tranquil sky garden, I came across their clubhouse and decided to take an afternoon break. I especially liked their taro latte and oreo cheesecake! The clubhouse / sky garden are good places to hold business meetings because the ambience is private and cosy, and they offer light food in case you want to grab a quick bite. You could also have a cuppa here with your laptop and have a quiet place to finish up some work! I usually come up here to sit and wait for my Carousell customers when I’m selling something off from my storage space. I’m really thankful and glad to have found such a reliable and convenient self storage provider to ease my storage woes. Now I don’t have to worry about where to put my extra stuff before I move into my new place, which takes a huge load off my shoulders!

Looking to finally declutter your life, office or home?

Let EBC Self Storage help you with that! Find out more from their website, where they’ll be more than happy to assist you and answer your burning questions. You don’t know how good extra space feels until you’re given more.

Let them know you’re a reader of my blog and you will receive a FREE pad lock for your storage unit!

xoxo,
Jess

Protect & repair your joints with BRAND’S® ActivMove

I’m 23, but sometimes I feel like a thousand years old.

I’ve had to visit a chiropractor since I was 20, due to back & joint problems that gave me hell. I don’t know if it’s because I led an unhealthy lifestyle or the fact that I was morbidly overweight, but my bones hurt everyday, especially my joints such as my knees, ankles and back. I suppose all the extra mass my body had to lug around everyday caused it a lot of unnecessary stress. Even though a large part of the weight is now gone, the joint problems somewhat remain! I can’t tell you how good (and bad) it feels to “crack” my back, wrist, neck and ankles everyday. But what I’ve gathered from my chiropractor and various health sources, it’s a horrible habit and vicious cycle that has to stop!

Joint manipulation in humans can produce a sharp cracking or popping sound. This occurs during deliberate knuckle-cracking, but it is possible to crack many other joints, such as those in the back and neck vertebrae, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, toes, ankles, knees, jaws, feet, sternum, and the Achilles tendon area. The mechanism that produces the cracking sound is not known.

According to a folk belief, the popping of joints, especially knuckles, leads to arthritis or other joint problems. However, medical research has so far failed to conclusively demonstrate any connection between knuckle cracking and long-term joint problems – says Wikipedia. All I know is, it feels crazy good momentarily, but I’m sure it’s awful for me in the long run. I’m envious of my healthy friends who don’t face the same problem as I do. I don’t have a doubt that I’m going to face horrible joint problems when I’m older.

Our joints are probably one of the least thought of parts of our body as we are often more concerned with the health of our heart, lungs and other major organs. Our joints carry our weight and move us effortlessly through our daily lives. Whether it is riding a bike or taking a long leisurely stroll in the park, our joints are important to us as we pursue life’s simple enjoyment.

There is very little awareness that our joints deteriorate with age. Everyday movement such as walking and climbing can increase the wear and tear of our joints which lead to joint aches and pains.

Start your prevention early to reduce the risk of joint problems with BRAND’S® ActivMove!

BRAND’S® ActivMove with Flexi-Boost® is formulated as a 360° total solution for joint maintenance and protection. Upon mention of BRAND’S®, you’ll probably instantaneously think of their best-selling Essence of Chicken – but they have a range of other health supplement products which can aid you and your family members in everyday health concerns.

BRAND’S® ActivMove with Flexi-Boost® formulation contains UC-II® and Hydrolyzed Type II Collagen that alleviates joint pain to help you perform at your best. UC-II® (40mg) has been proven to be more than twice as effective as the combination of glucosamine hydrochloride (1,500mg) and chondroitin sulfate (1,200mg) in promoting joint comfort and mobility. UC-II® is a novel ingredient extracted from natural food sources that works with the immune system to reduce inflammation and protect the existing cartilage structure. At the same time, collagen provides the building blocks for cartilage production and helps promote repair of damaged cartilage to maintain joint flexibility. Vitamin C is also added in the formula to scavenge free radicals (destroying molecules that causes cell damage within the body) and help protect joints from further degeneration.

If you don’t have healthy joints, even simple and mundane tasks such as sleeping in a comfortable position or lifting a light box seems like mission impossible. Never take your joint health for granted!

Through supplying joint nutrients, protecting existing joint structures from further deterioration and promoting self-repair of joint structures, ActivMove helps maintain healthy joints by supporting joint flexibility and mobility.

Contrary to popular belief, joint problems provide grief not only for the elderly, but young adults who participate in rigorous activities and intensive exercising regimes on a regular basis should be particularly mindful of their joints and take extra care! As they always say, prevention is better than cure.

The recommended dosage is 1 mini tablet daily.

If you know of anyone suffering from joint discomfort, I think this would make a great Christmas present. Presents don’t have to be extravagant, but this will definitely show them that you’re keeping their best interests in mind, and I’m sure they’ll be touched by the gesture!

I’m passing on these packs to my mother and relatives because I know they’ve been complaining about their shoulders, hips and knees for the longest time and I’m looking forward to being able to relieve their pain. This may not be a well-known product yet as it is still relatively new to the market, but you can be a considerate person by suggesting it to the people who may need it!

BRAND’S® ActivMove is available at Watsons, Guardian, Unity Pharmacy and their online store, at S$64 for a pack of 30 tablets.

You can also sign up for a free 10-day trial through this link and share your review of the product to stand a chance to win $100 worth of BRAND’S® products!

xoxo,
Jess

My own “Like” should be enough

Saw a video being circulated on Facebook about how posting too much about your relationship online could ruin it, and it made me cry like a baby.

As someone who has spent many years documenting her life online for those who are interested to read it, I can wholeheartedly relate to this story. I used to share every last bit and detail of my personal life on my blog and social media. How I met the guy, what we would do on our dates, even when we had big fights and problems.. I was so glad I found love, and I was ready to show the world just how lucky I was.

At first it was simply to share my joy online, but after awhile, it felt like a parade. It eventually exploded into a full blown self-obsession.

I guess with many things on social media, it’s often a facade. Things are never quite what they seem. But when it comes to relationships, pretending to be happy when you’re actually not is the fucking worst. I’ve had more girls than I can count enthusiastically tell me how envious they were of the relationship I had.

I didn’t know it then, but that put even more pressure on me to have a great relationship. One that was not only great to experience, but to read about. It was a main feature of my life. You have no idea what went on behind closed doors. You don’t know how many times I’ve smiled and posed for a photo for the sake of taking a nice shot, when deep inside, I wasn’t happy at all. And yet, the show must go on.

Or, does it? What happens when the lights come on and there’s no audience there to cheer you on but just you and yourself in your own raw, miserable form?

Looking back on the special memories I’ve posted online in recent years, sometimes I wish I didn’t bring my camera and phone along. Maybe then, I could’ve been in the moment entirely instead of worrying about the composition / filter of my photos and what caption I was going to put next on Instagram. Capturing it with my heart should have been enough. I can tell you that no matter how effortless some girls make it look, appearing glamorous on Instagram is a full time job.

Social media can be a life leech if you’re not careful with it. By itself, social media is a wonderful and inspiring thing, but boy is it dangerous. It can work really unhealthy ideas, comparison and powerful manipulation into your head. Social media posts from your peers may be about them, and not you, but somehow they find a way to subtly tell you, “this is what your life is supposed to be like.”

Too many times I was taking repeated photos of a special moment instead of enjoying it, too many dinners with people spent chatting online or surfing the net on my phone instead. I have been told off repeatedly by family members and loved ones about this. For this, I am ashamed.

But I’m glad I’m not quite like that anymore. I want to be the sort of person who has enough self control, respect and maturity to put my phone down long enough to look my companion in the eye, whoever it may be, and really listen to what they have to say. Whatever it is you have on your phone, it can wait for later. You owe more to the people you spend time with in real life than anyone online.

I have finally learned through the hardest way to experience something cool without shouting all about it, and realizing that my own validation of my happiness is good enough for me. It’s nice if the rest of the world approves, but even if they don’t, that does not matter at the end of the day. I guess this is what it means when they say, “disconnect to connect”.

A very difficult lesson in the life of a social media addict. I hope I will always remember that the reason why I love posting my thoughts and experiences online is because I genuinely enjoy sharing information and ideas with other people, and not because I thrive off the self esteem boost from every “Like” I get for my posts.

My own “Like” should be enough.

xoxo,
Jess

Recipe: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce & Cheesy Garlic Bread by Perfect Italiano

It’s nearing the end of the year again, which can only mean one thing for sure – everyone will be feasting on lots of indulgent food!

Let the pigging out begin. Every year, I make it a point to host elaborate and utterly gluttonous dinner parties for my friends and I, to celebrate getting through yet another tough year of life and get ourselves in the relaxed, holiday mood. Cooking food from the heart is one of the best and sincerest way to make someone happy. No one can be upset at you when you make them a meal of their dreams.

This festive season, one key ingredient I’ll be including in my dishes is my favorite Perfect Italiano cheese!

Perfect Italiano is a cooking cheese brand that adds simple Italian flair to everyday family meals. It is fuss-free easy to use, to prevent homemade meals from being difficult, complex and time-consuming. The difference between a normal chef and a great chef is careful execution and a wild imagination, and with that said, I like putting cheese on as many food dishes as I can think of! I’ve chosen to use Pizza Plus in today’s post because I adore how versatile this cheese is – it’s full bodied, yet light and textured to use in almost any dish that requires a topping of cheese.

You know what’s a dish I like eating but can hardly find good versions of when dining out?

 

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballlllllllllllllls.

Pure, simple meatballs with moist, flavorful meat. Too many versions are too dry, tasting more like cardboad balls than meatballs. That’s why I’m going to share with you my own Meatballs in Tomato Sauce recipe, that your guests will praise you for at your next dinner party!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 250g pork, minced
  • 250g beef, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 pinches of salt
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • chopped fresh English parsley
  • bunch of halved cherry tomatoes
  • a bottle of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • additional seasoning such as paprika, herbs like thyme, etc optional to your preferences
  • a handful of Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus Grated Cheese

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
  2. Roll meat mixture into manageable sized balls
  3. If mixture doesn’t hold shape well enough, add more breadcrumbs to stiffen it
  4. Heat up a pan with 3cm deep oil, and shallow fry on each side for 2 minutes or until just cooked with pink insides
  5. Prepare a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil off meatballs with after removing them from frying pan
  6. Once all meatballs are cooked, pour the oil into a glass bowl before discarding it
  7. Using the same pan, stir fry the cherry tomatoes until semi-cooked, then pour in tomato pasta sauce
  8. After the tomato sauce is hot, arrange cooked meatballs into the pan
  9. Top off with your desired amount of Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus cheese, more black pepper and parsley for garnishing
  10. Serve in frying pan for extra rustic style points

What you’re looking at is deliciously moist meatballs with a simple but comforting flavor that is elevated by the tangy tomato sauce and stretchy cheese! Don’t the bright red and green colors remind you that Christmas is creeping up on us already?

You’d want to make sure your meatballs are not too salty, because the tomato sauce and cheese contains additional salt that will contribute to the overall saltiness. You can also substitute the minced pork for minced chicken if preferred.

Just look at that tantalizing cheese calling out for help! It needs you to put it in your mouth. Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus is made up of three cheeses – Mozzarella, for lending that stretchy bite, and Parmesan and Cheddar for a fuller flavor.

I suppose you could go the extra mile by making your own tomato sauce.This will be a popular choice with people of all ages at your dinner, especially kids who seek out tomato based dishes, and the men who enjoy red meat!

 

And what better sidekick and accompaniment to go with your glorious Meatballs in Tomato Sauce than good o’ trusty…

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Ingredients:

  • your favorite loaf of freshly baked bread, sliced
  • many cloves of minced garlic
  • semi-melted butter
  • chopped fresh English parsley
  • a handful of Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus Grated Cheese

Directions:

  1. Generously butter your sliced bread
  2. Spread minced garlic over the bread
  3. Top off with parsley, and a generous amount of Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus Cheese
  4. Bake in an oven or toaster at the highest setting for 3-5 minutes until edges of the bread are golden brown

Crisp around the edges, soft, buttery and cheesy in the center – nothing but garlic bread perfection!!

Don’t be a miser when buttering your bread – despite the copious amount of butter looking like it’s going to give you a heart attack, it’s actually what awesome garlic bread is made of. You’ll want to use freshly minced garlic instead of the dried stuff, because the flavor will be so much better. You’ll probably also want to brush your teeth really thoroughly after this meal before you talk to anyone up close. At least you’ll know you’re safe from vampires for the night.

These two dishes are a match made in heaven. One bite will have you singing “Hallelujah” in your head!

If you thought tomato meatballs were paired best with pasta, you are wrong. You have lived your life in darkness until this very moment. Let me educate you: they are literally AMAZEBALLS with garlic bread!

If I could describe it with one word, it would be “hearty”. A party in your mouth to make your dinner party complete.

Thank you Perfect Italiano for always inspiring me to come up with new recipes to experiment with, taking my love for cheese to newer heights each and every time! It has been a blossoming and fulfilling relationship ever since I first picked a packet of your cheesy goodness up!

Available at leading supermarkets, visit them at Perfect Italiano’s official website for more piping hot ideas to go bonkers in your kitchen with, and don’t forget to hashtag your own cheesy creations using #PerfectItalianoSG!

xoxo,
Jess
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