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Recipe: Pork Belly Kimchi Stew

You know what I love eating on a cold, miserable rainy day kinda evening?

Kimchi stew. It makes any rainy day instantly okay. But of course, if it’s cold and miserable outside, you won’t want to leave your comfortable, dry house. …So, I didn’t. I stayed home and made my own kimchi soup / stew instead and boyyyy, was it good! Too good not to share. First off – I am not very knowledgeable about Korean food, so this may not taste like the best kinda authentic stuff, but it’s damn well good enough for me, and I reckon I have pretty high (or snobbish, depends how you look at it) standards for food so I urge you to give this a go.

My favorite Korean foods are the BBQ meats, seafood pancake, and of course.. kimchi stews! Unfortunately, kimchi stews are quite pricey if you order it in a restaurant, and I never understood why. Soups must be one of the easiest and cheapest foods to cook at home. I love making soup. I love it even better when it’s hot and spicy kimchi stew! There’s something about kimchi that’s very appetizing. It’s crunchy, chewy, spicy, sour, and almost a little sweet… literally a burst of flavor in your mouth.

I felt compelled to share this recipe, because literally anyone can make it. I always hesitate to post recipes that are too complicated. For this pork belly kimchi stew, even a hopeless cook in the kitchen could throw these ingredients together in a pot, then magic happens!

Ingredients (4 serves):

  • 500g kimchi, with juice
  • 300g sliced tofu, firm or soft to your preference
  • 200g golden mushroms / your favorite asian mushrooms
  • 300g thinly sliced pork belly / you can replace this with, or add on beef slices or chicken meat
  • half a medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tom yam stock cube
  • 1 chicken stock cube 
  • 1 liter of water
  • a splash of sesame oil, black pepper & spring onions for garnishing
  • steamed rice or instant noodles to your preference

Directions: 

  1. Bring a medium pot filled with 1 liter of water to a boil, then pour in the kimchi, onions, tom yam and chicken stock cubes while stirring, then let the soup simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Taste test your soup at this point. If desired, water can be added to dilute the taste, or the soup base can be left to boil for a further few minutes to intensify the flavors. Kimchi stew is known for its very strong flavors.
  3. Once satisfied with the soup base, add into the pot your mushrooms, tofu and meat, cooking on medium to high heat for another 3-5 minutes, or until meat is properly done.
  4. If eating with noodles, I recommend turning OFF the heat, then adding your instant noodles to the pot, as it will cook very quickly and will continue to cook through as you are serving & eating it. Soggy noodles are awful, so be very careful with not overcooking them.
  5. Serve your kimchi stew very hot in a stone or thick bowl if you have one, and don’t forget to add your garnishing on the top! 

It’s such a simple recipe, but it’s the classic and fuss-free ones like this that I find myself going back to time after time. When you cook often enough, it’s not about what’s the best meal you can whip up for your taste buds…. it’s more like, “what delicious thing can I create with leftover ingredients in the fridge”, or “what if I only have 30 mins to prep and cook?!”  

I do like eating my kimchi stew with al dente instant noodles instead of rice, however, it’s important to note that if you’re having it with rice, you would want the soup to be thicker and more heavy on the flavors than if you were to be eating it with noodles. I used golden / enoki mushrooms, but really you can also add in shiitake mushrooms, shimeiji mushrooms and it’ll be absolutely wonderful. I just used whatever I had on hand that day, and that’s my style of cooking. If I had more meats, I would’ve also thrown in some chicken sausages and other random ingredients in there too.. have you heard of a Korean army stew before? ;) I like that concept of “anything goes”.. into this pot of soup. If you like it more spicy, throw in some cut chilli, and if you like it really sour like my boyfriend does, I recommend you adding vinegar for that extra acidic kick. I followed the recipe I’ve given above without adding anything extra, and I loved it the way it is. You can really decide to include, or omit any ingredients to your own liking for soups like these, because they’re so easy to handle and adjust!

There you have it: your own soul warming pot of kimchi stew!

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P.S – It’s come to my attention that some people have been re-posting or re-distributing my recipes online without my permission. This is quite dismaying to learn of. I only post original recipes from trial and error ways in my own kitchen, and I work hard to bring you guys interesting content for your enjoyment. So I hope you’ll have enough respect, or morals, to include a link back to this blog / post or insert due credit when sharing my stuff online. Thank you!

xoxo,
Jess

Recipe: Mac & Cheese and Deli Sandwich by Perfect Italiano!

I love cheese. Cheese loves me.

If you don’t like cheese at all, there’s a chance we could never, ever be friends. Just like how I can’t understand why some people do not like fluffy bunnies. Cheese and bunnies are life.

I can almost never say no to something that has oozy melty cheese all over it. It is my ideal #foodporn. I don’t really take much of the stronger stuff like blue cheese or even parmesan, I definitely do not eat cheese on its own with a glass of wine, but I DO like it when it’s paired properly. For example, blue cheese in a gourmet burger or parmesan on bread or pasta! Yum.

As with any avid cook, I have my favorite brands for the choice of ingredients that I use in my home cooked meals, and today’s star of the post is… Perfect Italiano!

Perfect Italiano is a cooking cheese brand that adds simple Italian flair to everyday family meals! My most used product from Perfect Italiano is their good ol’ traditional Mozzarella cheese. They have both the grated version and the block version, for the recipes shown I used the block version. It has a soft, stretchy texture that’s wonderfully stringy when pulled apart, which makes it the ideal cheese to use for many different dishes because it can be baked, made into sauces, or just out of the packet, sliced.  Even people who don’t normally like cheesy foods can enjoy a good mozzarella dish thanks to its subtle, creamy flavor. With this awesome cheese, imma show you guys how to create two delicious dishes you can enjoy & share with your family and friends!

First perfectly cheesy dish from today’s line up: Baked Mac & Cheese!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 300ml full cream milk
  • 200g sausages, chopped (any you like, I used chorizos)
  • 50g bacon, chopped (optional, or substitute with more sausages)
  • 220g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 160g spinach leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small / medium onion, diced
  • 300g macaroni pasta (or other short pastas like penne, fussili)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 250g Perfect Italiano Mozzarella, grated
  • A handful of breadcrumbs 
  • A handful of Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes

Directions:

1. Boil the pasta with a pinch of salt and a drip of olive oil until 95% cooked. Texture should be slightly undercooked or very al dente, because further cooking will be done in the oven later on. Rinse with cold water, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

2. Sautee the onions & garlic in a pan with some butter or cooking oil for 2 minutes.

3. Add the spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, bacon and sausages and then stir fry on low heat until bacon and sausages are about cooked. It doesn’t matter if the meat is still a little pink. Empty your cooked contents into a deep large bowl.

4. In the same frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter under low heat until it turns liquid. Immediately add 2 tbsp plain flour to butter, and stir constantly.

5. Once flour is dissolved, pour in milk and grated Perfect Italiano Mozzarella, continue stirring with gentle heat until cheese sauce becomes thick and smooth. Remove from heat once cheese sauce is of the right consistency to prevent overcooking. 

6. Combine cooked contents, pasta & cheese sauce together! At this time, do a taste test and add salt & pepper to your own preference. Pour into oven-safe baking dish.

7. Sprinkle top generously with Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes, and breadcrumbs. If you have paprika, put some of that on too, for a perfect golden color after baking!

Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes is a full-flavoured Cheddar blend with a little Mozzarella for stretch and Parmesan for bite. This special blend does not turn oily, and bakes to a delicious golden brown crust. Since I can’t resist melted cheese, it only made sense to complement my Mozzarella from Perfect Italiano with Perfect Bakes on top.

8. Pop the dish into preheated oven of 200 degrees, & bake for 10 minutes to finish off!

..Ready for some oozy gooey food porn?!


Now that is one very pretty bed of mac & cheese. Imagine laying that down on the dinner table for your family to tuck into! I’m sure you’ll be their favorite person in the house. Yes, I am my own favorite person in my house.

Check out that perfect crust on the top.. *content sigh* Thanks to a thin layer and of course, Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes! (and paprika, it does wonders for color)

I’ve switched things up quite a bit by adding spinach, cherry tomatoes, bacon and sausage meat, making it a very substantial meal. I know the classic mac & cheese doesn’t have all these extra ingredients, but trust me when I say you’re never going to look at plain mac & cheese again after having this awesome version!

After all… what’s there to complain about? The yumminess factor just increased exponentially. Look at it just overflowing with wonderfully stretchy Perfect Italiano mozzarella. My kinda happiness. It is one of my favorite pastas to make for myself and dinner parties, and there is NEVER any leftovers!

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If you’re looking for an easier, fuss-free (and healthier) option to use Perfect Italiano Mozzarella to make a meal for your family, I’ve got you covered too!

This Deli Sandwich is totally simple, and something busy people or amateur cooks will have the time + skills to prepare, because everything will take less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves as many or as little as you want it to):

  • Sliced whole grain bread
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced ham (your favorite type, smoked salmon would work too)
  • Sliced avocadoes
  • Lettuce (or any salad leaves you like)
  • Mayonnaise or other dressing if you don’t like dry sandwiches
  • Perfect Italiano Mozzarella or Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus
  • A knob of butter

Directions:

1. Butter the bread slices & sprinkle with garlic / onion powder if you have some at home (optional)

2. Load on plenty of Perfect Italiano Mozzarella or Perfect Italiano Pizza Plus into a heaping pile on top of your bread slice! I used a mixture of both! It may look like a lot, but it melts down to a pretty reasonable amount. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
3. Pop the bread slices into a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 6 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted. 

4. Once the bread slices are out, you may start assembling your sandwich! I like displaying my top bread slice with the melted cheese side up for extra yumminess factor.

Easy as 1, 2, Cheese!

Tell me this doesn’t make you salivate.

…Liar!

I’ve garnished mine with a cherry tomato on top, held in place with a toothpick through my sandwich. This would be an ideal lunch for people on-the-go, because you can quickly make this in the morning and bring it to work!

A balanced meal that was ridiculously easy to prepare. You’ve got your carbs and fibers, vegetables, protein, vitamins and dairy all on one plate.

For more Perfect Italiano meal ideas and suggestions / recipes on how to use their cheeses in your everyday home cooking, check out their website here

If you do try any of my recipes (they are original!) please do tag me on Instagram at @shiberty #shibertycooks, and also tag #perfectitalianosg so that we can view your successful dishes! ;)

Happy cheesing!

xoxo,
Jess

Recipe: Matcha Pistachio Tofu Cheesecake with SCS Butter

Today’s recipe is as healthy as a dessert or a cake is going to get.

You won’t need an oven or any baking skills for this no-bake cheesecake, because it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy! It’s so light & easy on the palette, you can enjoy it with little guilt, even if you’re trying to watch your diet.
This Matcha Pistachio Tofu Cheesecake has a texture that’s a cross between a pudding and a real cheesecake.

It’s not rich like a New York Cheesecake, in fact it’s the very opposite… it just glides over your tongue and slides down your throat instead of getting stuck in your teeth and the roof of your mouth, making you feel thirsty and greedy. If you’re looking for something really rich and indulgent, this is not it. A tofu cheesecake is intentionally light on the taste buds. My mom would approve of this, I think!

Ingredients (7-8 slices):

Tofu Cheesecake Filling

  • 300g silken tofu
  • 250g SCS cream cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g natural plain yoghurt / sour cream
  • 50g full cream milk
  • 15g gelatin powder
  • 50ml warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Biscuit Base

  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 80g melted SCS butter

Matcha Pistachio Topping

  • 20g matcha powder
  • 100g crushed salted pistachios

SCS is my preferred brand of butter for its premium quality & top notch smooth, creamy texture. It’s an extremely popular brand used by a lot of bakers in Singapore since it became a household name many years ago. I used SCS cream cheese for my tofu cheesecake filling & SCS butter for the biscuit base.

Other recipes I’ve used SCS butter for include buttercream, butter cookies, cupcakes & cakes, spreading on toast for breakfast.. I always insist on using real butter for my cooking & baking. Shortening, margarine or other forms of alternative have just never cut it for me. You can definitely taste the difference when you don’t use the good stuff. And when I bake or cook, I HAVE to use the best stuff. I will settle for nothing less, it would be a dishonor to my own cooking and dignity. I’m that particular about it.

In other words… To me, butter is gold!

Directions:

  1. Line a removable base baking pan (8″ round size) with baking paper and spray with non-stick cooking oil.
  2. Crush the digestive biscuits into fine crumbs and combine with melted butter.
  3. Press tightly into cake pan with the back of a spoon. Leave baking pan in the freezer until required later.
  4. Dissolve and stir gelatin powder in warm water. Set aside for use later.
  5. Empty the rest of tofu cheesecake filling ingredients into an electrix mixer, and mix until well combined, around 1 minute. Add the dissolved gelatin at the end, stirring thoroughly.
  6. Remove baking pan from the freezer. Pour your tofu cheesecake mixture into the pan.
  7. Sprinkle the top generously with matcha powder and pistachios. 
  8. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until firm to the touch, when it doesn’t wobble too much when you shake the pan.
Make sure you use a cake pan with a removable base, because that’s the only way you’re going to get your tofu cheesecake out without wrecking it!

When it’s ready to be served, I run along the edges of the cake with a warm butter knife, scraping against the pan to make sure the edges come out as smooth as possible.

This recipe is so effortless and elegant – just mix away, then after 4 hours in the fridge.. you’ve got your dessert! No fuss, just pure pleasure. The hints of matcha and traces of pistachio complement the cheesecake wonderfully. Subtlety is everything in this recipe
Most people like to mix the matcha powder into the filling, which makes it end up looking like some sort of weird green cheese block at the end. I’ve done things differently by layering it generously over the top because the presentation is so much prettier and as long as you sprinkle enough of it, the green tea notes will still be there. Just on the top, so it doesn’t alter the taste of the rest of the cheesecake.
On this note, though, I have to mention that pistachios and matcha are not a necessity in this recipe. If you don’t like green tea or you’re allergic to nuts, try replacing the topping with a tangy & sweet fruit like passionfruit puree or raspberry compote. Equally delish!

Enjoy your perfect little slice of homemade Matcha Pistachio Tofu Cheesecake!

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SCS knows how much I love baking and sharing about my kitchen adventures on my blog, so they have generously offered to gift 5 of my lucky followers / aspiring bakers with their very own SCS Bakers’ Kit, worth $128!


Filled with baking goodies & essentials such as measuring spoons & cups, heatproof oven mittens, baking trays and silicone moulds.. now if only I had one of those when I started out baking… would’ve made my life a lot easier! Never under estimate the power of the right tools in the kitchen.

To win yourself a set of SCS Bakers’ Kit, all you have to do is:

  1. “Like” SCS Facebook page.
  2. Leave a comment on this blog post describing why you prefer SCS dairy or how you personally enjoy using SCS products, be it in your baking / kitchen / simply spreading over toast!
  3. Don’t forget to include your name & email address.
  4. Winners will be chosen by 28 February 2014 and contacted via email shortly after.

For more information & news about SCS Dairy and access to yummy free recipes to use their products in, visit their website!

xoxo,
Jess

Recipe: Creamy Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup

I’M ALIVE, PEOPLE. And today, I have another long-overdue recipe to share with you!

After the first few days of Chinese New Year, I’ve been cooking a whole lot more because I’ve inevitably gained weight from the influx of rubbish junk food I’d been gorging on (pineapple tarts, bak kwa, etc etc). I couldn’t wait to get back to real, wholesome food. I love my Chinese New Year snacks, but lawd, they’re unhealthy.

I realized that I don’t have the time to tediously shoot step-by-step cooking tutorial pictures (they are a lot more trouble than they look) which is the number one thing that throws me off actually getting around to documenting my cooking… Whenever I’m in the kitchen, I’m always in a rush because I’m either 1) very hungry or 2) cooking for anticipating guests, so taking over an hour to record a purposefully-visually-appealing recipe is out of the question on most days! So, I decided to just do away with in-process pictures for easier recipes, and show you the final product that you can expect. This way, it’s a lot more manageable for me.. you guys can also expect more frequent posts!  I promise the recipes will still be easy to follow.

One of my favorite things to whip up in the kitchen to impress my friends would definitely be a good bowl of hearty soup. It seems straightforward enough, but impressive when you nail it. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how difficult it is to get a good bowl of soup outside. Most Western restaurants in Singapore either serve diluted, tasteless, blah tasting flavored water they call SOUP, or overly-starchy soups that taste like Campbell’s. It’s ridiculous.

Because soup has to be one of the best things to cook at home, for many reasons! It’s cheap, fuss free and extremely forgiving towards amateur cooks. It warms your tummy and soul, it’s great food for the sick (and the healthy!) and well, there’s really no good reason why you shouldn’t make soup at home. Here’s my own rendition of an absolutely delicious Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup for you to try! You will need a blender for this.

Ingredients (4 servings):

  •  4 strips of bacon
  •  500g pumpkin, de-gutted
  •  150g cauliflower, roughly chopped
  •  600ml full cream milk
  •  1 cube chicken stock 
  •  1 medium white onion, diced
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  salt & pepper to taste
  •  sprig of thyme & paprika for garnishing (optional)


Directions:

  1. Boil cauliflower & pumpkin in a large pot until very soft to the touch, then remove skin from pumpkin and cut into 2cm chunks, set aside together with cauliflower.
  2. While your vegetables are boiling, fry the bacon in a non-stick pan until brown and crisp around the edges. You won’t need any oil for this. Cut the bacon with kitchen scissors into small pieces.
  3. Pour out 95% of excess oil from frying the bacon, reserving the last 5% to sautee onions and garlic for 5 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Add boiled cauliflower & pumpkin to the pan, and stir for another 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the milk and add chicken stock. Let this mixture gently simmer until chicken stock is fully dissolved.
  6. Using an electric blender, blend the chunky soup mixture on high until completely smooth, around 10 seconds.
  7. Return the soup to the pan, and check if consistency is to your liking. If too thick, add more milk to thin it out. If too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes until the texture seems just right. Add salt/pepper to taste. Note that texture of soup will thicken as it cools.
  8. Serve immediately, garnish with sprig of thyme for that hint of freshness, sprinkle with paprika & more black pepper. I also like to drizzle mine with a little bit of milk and olive oil. Top off with bacon pieces.

An effortlessly creamy Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup that’s not overly rich, but hearty enough to keep your tummy satisfied.

It’s so smooth that people always assume it takes a long time to do, or that I use real cream in it.. neither of which is true! It’s light enough for lunch, and great as a side dish for dinner. I love the natural sweetness it has from the pumpkin – it goes so well together with the little bites of savory bacon pieces. The perfect blend of sweet & savory liquid food. This soup is always a huge hit at my dinner parties and I’ve honestly never met anyone that didn’t love it or finish their whole bowl, even people who don’t normally eat pumpkin! For the super health conscious, I guess you could skip the bacon and substitute with croutons or something… but where’s the fun in that? ;)

Happy soup making! This is one recipe for the family because it makes a big pot, great for sharing.

xoxo,
Jess

I cooked my way through Christmas 2013.

Golly.

I’m having Christmas withdrawal symptoms. I miss hearing soothing & cherry Christmas carols everywhere I go, I’m DEFINITELY going to miss the fairy lights and wonderful decorations… and most of all, I will miss the copious amount of justified FEASTING!!!

This year, Christmas came and went just like that.

I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s going to be Christmas soon.” And now here we are, 5 days after Christmas, which has well and truly gone. Is this seriously going to be how life works from now on? That the older you get, the faster time flies? If only Christmas could be a whole week long. I know technically there are 12 days of Christmas but nobody really seems to care from the 26th of December onward.

I cooked a lot this Christmas. In fact, I cooked for and hosted three different groups of friends and family throughout the week. It was A LOT of action in the kitchen. I realized that most pictures I took were of me and the food I made!



Here’s an example of one.

I love seeing men in the kitchen.

French onion soup and creamy chicken / bacon / mushroom spaghetti…. washed down with Somersby!!!!

And this was another party.

Yina was 3 whole hours early for the party, so she took a lot of Behind The Scenes pictures while I was prepping the food for everyone! That’s me cutting up apples and other delicious ingredients for my holiday salad. It had grapes, apples, oranges, pistachios, blueberries, onions, cherry tomatoes and greens, topped it all off with an apple cider vinegar dressing.

Mushroom soup in the making!

 I love making soups, they’re so fuss free. For mushroom soup, I just sautee mushrooms with onions, add stock and milk / cream then turn on my blender. It has never failed me and tastes about a thousand times better than any canned stuff!

We made a new Canadian friend, Clifford, and he stayed over at our new place for a night before he had to fly off! We put his muscly arms to good use, he was BBQing away for a good whole hour! All this whole enthusiastically donning a Santa hat. What a guy.

Chicken satay is my favorite type : )

After 3-4 hours of cooking and prepping, my hungry guests arrived… And as any of my house guests would tell you, the highlight to visiting my place would be the FOOD. I absolutely love cooking, especially for people who appreciate it – and these people always do!!!

Shepherd’s pie, chicken wings (thanks Nich for marinating them and bringing them over!!), deviled eggs, holiday salad, chorizo pasta, mushroom soup, BBQ-ed satay / bacon and peanut butter nutella fudge cake.

Did I cook all of this? Hell yes I did! : D

Of course, with much needed help from my DFW & friends. It’s a lot of work, but seeing the look on people’s faces as they eat your food and sing high praises is well worth it. I’m a show off like that.

Sam & I before feasting…. You know what I hate???

 Cooking perfectly hot food then having it turn cold while I take picture. But how do I NOT take pictures of the food and before eating?! /blogger pains/

Da boys and my messy house background (which will be seen in a lot of today’s pics)

Had quite a bit of alcohol this Christmas… *hic* And so did this cheeky monkey!

Say cheeeeeeeeeeze everybodeh!

What it looks like at our dining table.
Every. Single. Time. #noshame #itsourjob #actuallywearejustobsessed

If you try to take a bite out of the food before all photos are taken, you would be EXECUTED.

I absolutely ♥ these wonderful people.

Thank you for all the boisterous laughter and joy you brought to my new home!!!!!!!

You people never fail to make my heart lighter, no matter what sort of rough time I’m going through, I always forget my troubles and worries when I’m with you. It was such a fun and cosy little home party and I couldn’t think of any other way I would rather spend X’mas. After eating, we all sat in my living room and started caroling together…. Which was really strange but awesome. We took a hilarious video of us singing All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (sooo many re-takes before we finally settled on one!) but it’s with Melissa at the moment!

THEY GOT ME A SURPRISE PRESENT TOO!!!!!!!

As I mentioned earlier, Yina arrived at house super early that day, much to my surprise, and she came with this huuuuuge box in tow. I was like “WHAT you got me a present?!!?!?” and she just smiled / smirk with raised eyebrows in typical Yina fashion…. LOL. Then she told me it was a combined gift from everyone and I was like awwwww.

I was so excited to open it because presents are extra special when you were totally NOT expecting one! For birthdays, you know you’re gonna get cool stuff, but for this X’mas dinner I told people they could brink drinks or otherwise come empty handed since I wasn’t planning to get any of them gifts either (just hosting the party and making food) but they got me a KICK ASS state of the art type of expensive microwave oven because I told Yina that mine was ruined, that very same afternoon. I was extremely upset when it happened,  it was damaged during a quarrel by accident, and I just ranted to Yina about my problems as usual… I never expected this thoughtful girl to rally everyone so last minute, and go out to Best Denki to buy it, carrying this massive thing to my house all by herself literally hours after I told her my microwave oven needed replacing.

Such an angel  ♥ ♥ ♥ :’) Thank you so much you crazy ass lovely people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Well as it turns out, my microwave oven DIDN’T need replacing in the end (just needs a new part to be bought in order to fix it) and since the one they got me was pricey and brand new, I didn’t want to waste their money by having two microwave ovens in the house…. (my house is too small for that)

Thus, I exchanged and topped up the microwave oven for a new camera instead!

I felt pretty hesitant and bad about it at first, for thinking of exchanging a present, but my friends were so kind and encouraging about it, insisting that I get something I actually need and no matter what they’re still happy to have contributed to a gift for me. I was OVER THE MOON when I laid my hands on my new camera – it’s a camera I’ve been lusting over for quite some time now.

Used my first little blue box & gorgeous Christmas pressie (*squeals* ♥_♥ rose gold with diamonds!!!!) as a model for some test shots, and it took awhile to get a hang of the new cam… but once I did, I couldn’t stop clicking away!!!

Definitely my favorite tree ornament of all time.

More food I made – this time for X’mas Eve dinner with the family!

This is bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, garlic spread & portobello before it goes into the oven.

Calamari rings

And my brilliant spur-of-the-moment invention – salted egg crab linguine with shrimps & sundried tomatoes.

It had curry leaves and chilli and salted egg like the traditional recipe, then I turned it into a creamy sauce with some thickened cream and olive oil. How’s that for fusion food?! Turned out pretty freakin’ awesome if I do say so myself!!!!! If I had a restaurant I would so sell this. And I would not be surprised if some months or years from now, I see restaurants / cafes start producing this dish! It’s a food phenomenon waiting to happen. : P

I had so many people talking about the pie from the previous party that I had to make another batch after that! I cooked a total of X4 the amount you see in the picture above for each party and gave away trays of homemade pies as Christmas gifts as well.

My cute little potted Christmas plant from Ikea. Sitting on a table (and chairs) also from Ikea. What happens when a 21 year old girl goes furniture shopping for her new house? She gets Ikea furniture for everything. Lol. Some day I will be able to afford designer furniture. But today, I’m happy being able to afford my own rent. Life has gotten a lot tougher these few years.

This one I didn’t make, my mom bought : P

Even though my gran is deeply religiously Buddhist, I still wanted her to come for Christmas dinner because I believe this holiday is meant for everyone of all religions, races, ages and beliefs to come together and appreciate their loved ones.

 I got her a gold necklace, and her reaction was just adorable!

She tried to slip it on via the top of her head but obviously it was too small for that, hahaha!

My aunt curiously looking on as I put on the necklace for my grandma… I hope she likes it and will think of me whenever she wears / sees it! She’s the only grandparent I actually ever got to know and spend time with, so I make sure she knows that she’s special whenever I can.

It’s become some sort of tradition to get my mom something from Chanel for Christmas. And the look on her face is always the same. : ‘)

That’s all my cake decorating supplies at the back!


Other random pics of Christmassy affairs…

My Christmas Day was spent looking at baby bunnies early in the afternoon (I’m getting a new one. AAAGGHHH THE FLUFF OVERLOAD WAIT TILL YOU SEE HER PICTURES) and then heading over to Marina Bay Sands for dinner and a stayover!

We may not have snow, we may not have real Christmas trees… we didn’t even have Turkey, or a mistletoe. But that’s okay. I had my loved ones to spend this holiday with. That’s more than any present Santa could bring me.

Happy New Year to all of you.. sending my love!!

xoxo,
Jess
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