Friday, April 25, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Strawberry Heart Jelly Cheesecake


Look at those cuppies, don't they just look beautiful?  Makes you feel so loved ya?  I had no intention of making any more cheesecakes after the previous two cheesecakes I made not long ago, but an SOS posted by a friend in a cooking group made me want to do it again.  This friend was making the Strawberry Heart Jelly Cheesecake and when she poured the jelly onto the cheese there were bits of floating cheese.  That was her X number of times she made it and still she get the floating cheese, she couldn't understand the reason since she followed the recipe steps closely.  I was curious and decided to try it out, I asked this friend for the recipe and she directed me to Storyofbing website.

So, the cake was made in a glass pan which I do not have, I thought I'd do cuppies instead, and got myself a packet of aluminum cuppies like the one in the photo from Phoon Huat.


I gathered all the ingredients (thank goodness the supermarkets were having a buy 2 at cheaper price plus a cute little egg shaped timer promo for Philadiaphia cream cheese so I have some extra packet in the fridge) and start to make the cheesecake.  I crushed the digestive biscuits (if you want to know how I did it, head off to my No Bake Mango Cheesecake post), melted the butter using the double boiling method, whisked the cream cheese with sugar and about an hour later my beautiful strawberries were sitting nicely on the cheese and was sent into the fridge for chilling.



I used 2 different type of jelly powder because 1. I did not read the recipe clearly (was distracted by something and rushing through) and missed out reading about the hot & cold water method 2. Its been donkey years since I last bought jelly powder and I have forgotten that when it has cooled down it solidified.  So I wasted the Konnyaku jelly powder and just to play safe I bought 2 packets of Tortally jelly powder the next day.

If you are using Tortally jelly powder perhaps you may want to make a little adjustment.  I used 150ml hot water with 180ml chilled water and the jelly is too sweet for our liking.  You can either add more water, use half or ¾ packet instead, just do a taste test when the powder has fully dissolved and adjust accordingly.

As for Konnyaku jelly I didn't get a chance to taste it so am not sure about the sweetness.  Please let me know about the sweetness if you used this type of jelly powder.


And then it reached the nerve breaking part... will I have floating cheese in my jelly when I pour them in???  I asked my experienced baking friends and they suggested that I poured the jelly over the back of the spoon and let it flow slowly onto the cheese.  This method will ensure that the flow of the jelly does not have any great impact and causing the cheese to break up.  After doing that for 2 cuppies I decided that it is not necessary for me to use this method as the cheese seems to have set in well enough so I simply just spoon the jelly gently onto it directly.  It was a slow process but I finally finished adding the jelly onto my 9 cuppies and its back into the fridge for more chilling.


The next night I took one out excitedly and tore away the aluminum cup revealing the red and white tempting dessert. Before I can sink my teeth onto it I have to cut it into half and take photos to show every one the inside of the cheesecake.  They look beautiful though not perfect, the base is too thick, it would taste better if they were thinner.


One thing to take note, the original recipe calls for 500g cream cheese but I only used 250g because I thought its too much plus I googled and most recipe only requires 250g.  Anyway, with 250g of cream cheese I was only able to make 9 cuppies and left with half the amount of crushed digestive biscuits.  I am not sure whether it's the reduced cream cheese but my cheese cake does not taste cheesy enough.  On top of that it's a little bit hard, I should have guessed it since I did not reduce the gelatin.

Also, since I messed up the jelly my cheese cuppies were able to chill in the fridge for over 24 hours.  They probably have more than enough time to set so the cheese will not disintegrate.  Thus me and that friend concluded that the most important thing is "CHILL CHILL CHILL!!!" Even though the recipe says chill for at least X number of hours, you can let it chill further, it'll probably do more good then harm.

I hope you like these strawberry heart jelly cheese cupcakes~

Strawberry Heart Jelly Cheesecake

by Jennifer Lim (adapted from http://cooking.storyofbing.com/)
Prep Time: 45mins
Cook Time: At least 8 hours to chill
Keywords: No Bake dessert 
Yield: 10 - 12 cheesecakes

Ingredients
* 300g digestive biscuits
* 150g melted butter
* 500g cream cheese (placed in room temperature for 2 to 3 hours to soften)
* 1½ tablespoons gelatin powder
* 100ml water
* 2/3 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
* About 10 to 12 strawberries
* 160g strawberry flavoured jelly
* 1½ cups boiling water
* 1½ cups cold water

Instructions
1. Put the digestive biscuits into a ziplock bag and crush them either using a rolling pin or anything hard enough to do the job easily. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter using the microwave on medium high heat for a minute or till melted or using the double boiling method. Set aside to allow it to cool down.
3. Add the cooled down melted butter into the crushed digestive biscuits. Mix well by shaking the bag.
4. If you are using a glass pan, grease the pan generously with butter. The recipe is for 13 X 10 X 2 inch glass pan.
5. Empty the mixed contents onto glass pan. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to smooth out the mixture and press it down. For cups, just spoon in enough mixture and press it down with the back of a teaspoon.
6. Put it into the freezer to set while you prepare the cream cheese.
7. Dissolve the gelatin powder with water using microwave on medium-high heat for a minute or till mixture is all dissolved or use the double boiling method. Set aside to allow it to cool down.
8. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and the sugar. Whisk well on low speed till mixture is creamy.
9. Add in the vanilla essence and gelatin mixture. Whisk well on low speed till well combined.
10. Pour mixture into glass pan or spoon it into the cups. Smooth the top as much as you can with the spatula.
11. Let the mixture rest in room temperature for about 10 minutes.
12. Prepare the strawberries by cutting them into half, slice off the white tops with the leaves and cut a deep V in the centre.
13. Press each strawberry half way into the cream cheese mixture with 1 inch to 1.5 inches apart. Let the strawberry sink in gently. If the strawberries don’t sink in, they will float up in the jelly layer later.
14. Cover the pan with cling film wrap & place the pan in the fridge. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. If the cheese layer is not well chilled, the cheese will disintegrate when the jelly layer is added.
15. Prepare the jelly 4 hours later. Empty the jelly powder into a bowl and add in 1 and 1/2 cup of hot boiling water. Stir until the jelly powder has fully dissolved.
16. Add in 1 and 1/2 cup of cold water and mix well.
17. Ensure that the jelly-water mixture has cooled. If the mixture is still hot, it will melt the cheese layer and cause bits of cheese to float in the jelly layer. Gently pour the cooled mixture over the cream cheese layer over the back of a spoon.
18. Cover the pan with cling film wrap again and chill for another 4 hours. I did not cover my cups but you can do it if you want.

How to remove cake from glass pan
1. Use a sharp knife with a thin blade to cut the jelly hearts. Prepare a large jar of boiling water. Dip the knife into the water. Wipe it off and cut. Repeat that with every cut to get a nice clean cut with no crumbs sticking at the sides.

2. If you lined the pan with baking paper, the crust should not stick to the pan. If you didn’t line with baking paper, set the pan on a hot/warm surface for a few minutes before removing the jelly hearts. The heat will warm the butter at the base and make it easier to remove the jelly hearts.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Noah Zarc - Book Blast & Giveaway



About the Noah Zarc Books

Book 1

Title: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble (Book #1)
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: Evolved Publishing (2nd Edition)
Number of pages: 214
Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth… for the second time.




Book 2

Title: Noah Zarc: Cataclysm (Book #2)
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: Evolved Publishing (2nd Edition)
Number of pages: 234
Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Noah becomes embroiled in a mission that could cause the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system. Will his name, Noah Zarc, be forever linked to the most devastating crime in humanity’s existence, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time?






Book 3

Title: Noah Zarc: Declaration (Book #3) 
Author: D. Robert Pease 
Publication Date: November 1, 2013 
Publisher: Evolved Publishing 
Number of pages: 226 
Recommended age: 9+
Summary: As battles rage across the solar system, Noah must work to join together a rag-tag bunch of miners, farmers, and scientists who would rather just live in peace. With only a time-traveling ship full of animals and a general from the history books, the Zarc family has to stand against the full might of the Poligarchy. Will the truth about what really happened a thousand years in the past be enough to stop total war, or will Noah and his friends need to find another way to bring down a dictator?
 

Special Omnibus Edition

Title: Noah Zarc: Omnibus (Special Edition) 
Author: D. Robert Pease 
Publication Date: November 2, 2013 
Publisher: Evolved Publishing 
Number of pages: 630 
Recommended age: 9+
Summary: FEATURES ALL 3 BOOKS IN 1 SPECIAL EDITION & INCLUDES 22 PENCIL ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR

In a future where Earth has been wiped clean of all life, and humanity has moved on to other worlds, twelve-year-old Noah Zarc and his family have embarked on a quest, in a time-traveling spaceship called the ARC, to retrieve two of every animal and repopulate a dead world.



The Buzz About the Noah Zarc Books

Book 1: "Pease's strength as a storyteller lies in his ability to connect multiple time periods imaginatively, as well as Noah's excited, fast-paced narration." ~ Publishers Weekly

Book 1: "If I had read this book at age 10, I think it would have made me love SF just as much as reading Asimov did. If you like the non-stop action and humor of Rick Riordan's Olympians books, I think you'll also like Noah Zarc." ~ Sher A. Hart, book blogger and author

Book 2: "This is another great mind-bender. The wild time jump details are fabulously thought out and cause some unexpected results." ~ Michelle Isenhoff, Children's Author

Book 2: "A well-written, adventurous read for young readers and even adults, Noah Zarc blasts through space and into your imagination." ~ TKristufek, Amazon Reviewer

Book 3: "I was completely captured by the characters, the action and the issues and questions: set in fantasy but integrating concepts and engaging readers with a fun tale that teaches as it entertains." ~ Gaele, Amazon Reviewer

About the Author

D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *


Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: May 20, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, D. Robert Pease and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea 
Author: Angela Burkhead 
Publication Date: February 6, 2014 
Publisher: Maple Hill Publishing 
Pages: 152 
Recommended Ages: 9+
Summary: Rather than spending one more day amongst the humiliating remarks to the amusement of her fellow peers, Emily Fickeltin runs away. Or, rather, walks away. Emily is misunderstood and disliked but what seems to be every other child her age and on top of it all, she is overweight. Perfectly pleasantly plump, her mother calls her, but Emily feels far from perfect. Her attempt to escape her pain leads her to discover a hidden place with new hope for friends and acceptance. Stumbling into Phea's garden, an eccentric woman skilled in the arts of gardening and imagination, Emily finds she is not alone in her troubles. Phea and her friend rabbit have a past of their own they wish to run from and together the three battle their innermost demons as their world crumbles around them. Will they ever discover peace and acceptance? These lost and disheartened souls must find who they are before they are all lost forever.

Purchase


About the Author

Angela Burkhead is a full time writer and a full time mom. Of the two jobs, she cannot decide which is more difficult and time consuming, but both bring the joys of fulfillment and accomplishment. She and her son currently reside in Richmond, Ky, just north of Kentucky's arts and crafts capital, Berea, Ky, where she was born and raised. Her newest book, Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea, an upper middle grade/young adult fantasy novel, was published February of 2014.



* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *


Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: May 13, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

An hour with Singapore Botanic Gardens

Last month during the March school term holiday, DinoBoy attended the Slug & Bugs workshop at Singapore Botanic Gardens.  Since parents were not allowed in the classroom, I have 4 hours to spend while waiting for him, so I went there prepared... well almost well prepared.  I forgot my towel, fan (eh... so auntie ya) and most importantly a bottle of water with me.  Even though it was sweltering hot morning, my discovering walk lasted slightly over an hour before I was being chased back to the building by looming dark clouds.

In this post I have picked a few photos that I took to share them with you.  These photos may not be perfect but they give you a glimpse of some of the things I saw that day in just an hour.

My walk started from this point.  I am not sure whether it is the overwhelmed excitement of stepping into Singapore Botanic Gardens for the first time after decades or there is really some mystical garden faeries that are doing their magic but the moment I enter this area I felt exceptionally calm and at peace.  I stood at this spot, closed my eyes and took a long deep breath, listening to the rustling sound of the trees and sweet smelling of the flowers in the air.  It was refreshing and perks me up immediately, I set off with a smile on my face and camera in my hand ready to see what I can discover beyond this point.


At 11.30am on a Tuesday morning, I was surprised that there were quite a crowd in the gardens.  No doubt it was a school holiday but at such a sunny and hot Tuesday I would expect most to avoid the outdoor.  Even though there were groups of people walking around, there were no loud noise, the parents shushed their kids when they suddenly screamed too loud.  I guess the tranquility of the environment gets into us and we wouldn't want to break the silence.  I even spotted a group of 4 ang mo in their yogo attire and doing yoga on the grass.

Walking along the path I saw a carpet of pretty pink flowers, it was such a pretty sight!  Upon reading the introduction I got to know that these are the flowers from the Snake Tree or Stereospermum fimbriatum.  I took a photo of the tree but did not really like it thus not showing it.  These pink flowers makes me think of the blooming sakura in Japan which I saw on the tv a few days ago.


Strolling on I came upon the Swan Lake, the view of the huge lake took my breath away!  I was so mesmerized with the scene of clear blue sky, green lush trees and gentle ripples in the water, I was expecting the sculpture flock of noisy swans to fly towards me at any time.



And here are the 2 resident white swans enjoying a swim in the lake.


Even the terrapins are happily swimming in the water.  Look!  These 2 looks like they are in love with the leaves forming an almost heart shaped around them.


I always wanted to stand under a tree and be in its embrace, to look up from underneath it, feeling it's mightiness and it's gentleness, feeling it's life and listening to it's whispers.  How I wish I have the courage and skill to climb up a tree, to be among the branches and leaves, with the breeze in my hair and the sun rays on my face.  Ah~~ I'll do it in my dreams...



I was in luck that day because Monkey Pot (Lecythis ollaria) tree has bloomed and flowers have fallen, making it look like snow on the ground.  I approached the tree with caution, hesitant to step on the beautiful white flowers, inching my way towards it.  As I walked closer to the tree I smell a non overpowering scent of sweetness in the air. Time seems to come to a stand still when I was underneath canopy of the tree.  The chatting from the group of people not far from me was suddenly muffled, all I could hear is the rustling of the leaves, I shuddered as the wind rushed pass me, a sense of tranquility filled & settled unto me.  My first up close and personal encounter with a tree, it was a special moment for me which no words can describe.


I have a "must-find" item that day and it was this sculpture; Joy - by Ruth Bloch.  I first saw it's photo on Singapore Botanic Gardens facebook page and I knew I just have to meet Joy.  Looking at Joy, it brought back memories of earlier days when DinoBoy just arrived into our life.  Words cannot express the pure bliss and happiness but I see and feel it in Joy.  I stood there in front of the sculpture and tears just well up in my eyes. 


It was indeed a great walk in that day in the Gardens.  I will go back again soon, with the boy because I know he will enjoy running on the green grass and observing every thing around him.  I already have in mind to visit the Ginger Garden and to try to find the many sculptures in the Gardens.

If you have time or planning a family outing/gathering, why not take a trip to our Singapore Botanic Gardens?  They have guide tours on Saturdays that you and your family can join.  Or get an online trail guides from their website and do the discovering on your own.  Alternatively, you can register for some workshops for yourself or your child to learn more about nature.  Which ever way you choose I guarantee you that it will be an eye opening one.

I snapped a photo of this beautiful sculpture of a komodo lizard, it was curved out from a piece of wood stump.  Do you know which part of Singapore Botanic Garderns is it being displayed?


* Disclaimer : The unedited photos uploaded in this post belongs solely to me. Please do not take it for your own use without seeking my consent.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All The Easter Eggs - Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Billy and The Monster Who Ate All The Easter Eggs
Author: David Chuka
Publication Date: March 23, 2013
Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing
Pages: 32
Recommended Ages: 3 to 8
Summary: Join Billy and Monster in this third episode of the series titled Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food...CHOCOLATE! This year, they're spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She's an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta. This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday. What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

Get your copy of this funny book for kids of all ages that is not only full of laughs but also has a lesson weaved in that you'll love sharing with your loved ones.

Book Trailer



Purchase

* Print copy includes FREE coloring book inside *


The Buzz

"Experience is the best teacher as Billy and his "purple shadow" learn a sweet lesson in Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Beautifully illustrated, nicely formatted, this quick, easy story will be read over and over again." ~ 5 Star Review, Julia B., Amazon

"My daughter has really been enjoying David Chuka's Billy and Monster books. This is another fun addition to the "family." As always, the story has a lovely moral (this time teaching the value of moderation - definitely the biggest word in the book)! It's based on the very realistic theme of overindulging in chocolate/sweets, which virtually anyone can relate to and which kids find a lot of fun. And, awesome pictures as always. Definitely recommend it." ~ 5 Star Review, Renee B., Amazon

"I really like the little monster in this book and how they get into trouble together. What child hasn't snuck into the cache of candies that their parents have hidden? Cute story with a lesson for the little ones in your family!" ~ 5 Star Review, Patricia T., Amazon

"This is a cute story about a little boy Billy and his funny friend Monster. They love chocolate so much that they forget about obeying to older. At night, they sneaked to the chocolate egg pyramid, started eating the chocolate eggs and made a big mess. On the morning, they not only got in a big trouble, but they also got a bad stomach pain. They both had to learn a lessons about MODERATION. Nice illustrations, book well written." ~ 5 Star Review, OPV, Amazon

"Billy and his monster friend enjoy lots of fun in this book, filled with great pictures and a cute story. It shares a lot about celebrating holidays, and intertwines humor and family love throughout the story. Hidden in the story is a nice message about eating in moderation, a well needed lesson in our culture of over-eating. Billy ends up being proud of himself and makes good decisions by the end of the book, while all the while sharing some adventures with his cute monster friend. Great read to share with your children or grandchildren year round, not just for the Easter holiday." ~ 5 Star Review, Katie W., Amazon

About the Author

David Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, 'If You See a Doctor' after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He's gone on to write more books including the popular 'Billy and Monster' series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you'll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you'll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka's books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He has so many stories to tell and can't wait to share them with you and your loved ones.


Want to win a copy of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs?

Enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka in a Goodreads giveaway (Open U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia; Ends April 17, 2014).



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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 17, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *


Prize: $50 Amazon Gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) 
Contest ends: May 15, 11:59 pm, 2014 
Open: Internationally 
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. 
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Mrs. D and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Home Cooked Meals #2

Its Good Friday and a public holiday, Auntie Cat & me planned to bring the kids for prawning since both of them have not done it before.  We reached Hai Bin Prawning at Punggol at 11.30am and left the place 3 hours later with 19 live prawns!  Look how happy the kids are with their catch~


As we were unable to BBQ the prawns on the spot we decided to bring them home to cook them. We agreed on the dinner time, parted ways with Auntie Cat & family, and while DinoPapa heads off to Sheng Siong to buy the ingredients for tonight's dinner, DinoBoy & I headed home first with the live prawns that was still jumping in the plastic bag.  Take a look at our catch~  They are not tiny prawns but most of them are fairly big ones.


Since the prawns are so fresh, DinoPapa decided to steam them with shaoxing wine and Angelica Sinensis or dang gui which I think is the best way to cook them.  The prawns are indeed succulent!  When I bite into it I tasted it's sweetness with that slight hint of a crunch feeling. YUM~


DinoPapa prepared a sumptuous dinner for our guests, besides the steamed prawns in tonight's menu there are also stir-fried dou miao with fried shallots, steamed sea bass with salted veggie and salted bean paste, herbal chicken soup and roast pork.  I decided to make the air grilled chicken mid wings again since DinoBoy loves it so much.

Do you think there is too much food for 5 adults and 2 kids?  Nope!  We totally wiped out the dishes, even the rice!

Here's photos of our dinner, simple dishes that does not take a long time to prepare.






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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mrs. D’s Picture Books - Book Review & Giveaway

About the Books

Title: Carlo the Mouse Book 1: Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse
Author: Mrs. D
Illustrator: Chanoa
Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Number of pages: 33
Recommended age: 4+
Summary: Grab your boots and hold on to your hat, because you are in for an exciting trip! The new series of Carlo the Mouse has been born. Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse is the first in a series of books on Carlo’s adventures. Each book will give readers an entertaining look into the life of a little mouse born inside a hospital’s walls. Clever, curious, and very impatient, Carlo the mouse dreams of the world outside the hospital. His parents teach him how to follow the rules and how to survive on his own, but Carlo’s insatiable desire for adventure constantly gets him in trouble. Will the little adventurer manage to survive when he leaves home? You’ll find out in Mrs. D.’s next books on Carlo the mouse. Let your imagination soar in this full series of Carlo’s adventures!


Good Morning World by Mrs DTitle: Good Morning, World!
Author: Mrs. D
Illustrator: Eladziem
Publication Date: November 21, 2013
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Number of pages: 50
Recommended age: 5+
Summary: Glide gently into the beautiful morning with Baby Thomas and his grandpa. The sun is shining brightly through the wide window and the flowers, trees, birds, and other creatures have already started their day. Brilliant colors of the dawning day wake up the park, and Baby Thomas is ready for a walk. While walking in the park Thomas and his grandpa see the same things but from a different perspective. Baby Thomas wants to hug the wonderful world around him, but his grandpa has a different opinion. Young readers will easily connect to the wonders of nature and unforgettable characters, playfully interacting with each other. Join happy Baby Thomas and his grandpa for a walk and have a delightful, uplifting morning!

* Winner of a Mom's Choice Award, Honoring Excellence *


My Review

Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse is the first book of Carlo the Mouse series. This is a great series of books that touches on some life events that most of the kids will encounter as they grow older. Parents can discuss or use these stories as a guide to let their child knows that they may go through the same phrases in future and they could discuss how to handle the situation when time comes. This will probably ensure lesser conflicts or friction when parent recognize the milestones their child is facing and the child understanding their frustration while trying to establish an independent self to the parent.

I absolutely love Good Morning, World! because of the light-hearted way the story was being told. And the different view of a simple stroll to the park by a toddler and an adult makes me chuckle in agreement. I love the way Mrs D write on the enthusiasm of Baby Thomas, so eager to meet the animals, insects and everything else. How I wish the toddlers now are actually doing such observations & exploration around their surroundings instead of sticking their nose into some electronic gadgets.

"My mom is always on the phone," Baby Girl whispered softly

So who's guilty about this please raise your hand, I know I am guilty as charged. And if babies really can talk to each other they will definitely say "Ah, grown-ups!"  We really have to put down our gadgets, start spending more quality time with our family and explore the world together with our kids with a magnifying glass each in our hand.  

The Buzz

Carlo the Mouse: "My son chose this book to read and really liked it. He rated it 5* and said it was "awesome". He's almost five. So that's a good fit. If I could make one recommendation, it would be to watch out for repeating the same sentence structure over and over. It's a minor thing but could improve overall flow. The pictures were adorable. Well done Mrs. D." ~ 5 Star Review, Simone B., Amazon

Carlo the Mouse: "Another gem from Mrs. D.! This is the first in a series of several books, and the titles of those are just as intriguing as this one. The interchange between the characters goes beyond just rules and regulations. Even small children will see just how caring and loving this family is with each other. There are definitely different personalities, and conflicts, as in every family. Carlo’s is one that answers those challenges with love and firmness. The pictures are adorable! Every facial expression, every nuance of action, is so well-thought-out. The colors are appealing, and the story’s lesson is simple enough for even the youngest of readers. There is a challenge here in some of the vocabulary used in the book. I welcome that. The youngsters who get this story read to them are privileged in this regard, for they can learn new words and what they mean. A child whose vocabulary is extended beyond his or her comfort zone is a child who will learn and grow into an intelligent adult. I highly recommend this story, and hope that I will get the chance to read more of Carlo’s adventures." ~ 5 Star Review, Kitty Muse Book Reviews, Amazon

Carlo the Mouse: "As a grown-up, I fell in love with this adorable character the moment I looked at the first illustration. I had as much pleasure reading this book as my son did. Sometimes, a sample book like this one, gives more to a child then books chosen by the school experts. Now we could hardly wait what the next book will hold. Thank you so much for making our children happy. Because of books like yours, our children will grow up happier, kinder, and smarter. Great story! Wonderful artwork! Astonishing children’s book! Because of books like yours, our children will grow up happier, kinder, and smarter." ~ 5 Star Review, Olga G., Amazon

Good Morning, World!: "What a charming book of comparing generations and reminding us how children see the world! The illustrations are bright, colourful and sweet, and the story is so well written that it feels as though I am walking right beside the baby and grumpy Grandpa who clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning! Thank you for a lovely book, Mrs. D!" ~ 5 Star Review, Multi-Testing Mommy, Amazon

Good Morning, World!: "This darling story of Baby Thomas and Grandpa was like I was taking a stroll along with them. The author must have pulled some of this story from a family experience. With her very creative imagination she must have been very tuned into actions and reactions of Baby Thomas. Then there was Grandpa who was very vocal and animated so she undoubtedly knew exactly what to write about Grandpa. Too funny! This book is a must read! I highly recommend this book." ~ 5 Star Review, It's Time to Read Mamaw, Amazon

Good Morning, World!: "This was a charming book. Following the differing perspectives of the Grandpa and the child, this book is a wonderful reminder about the importance of a positive attitude. I LOVED the joyful wonder in the child's perspective, and cringed as I recognized some of the grandfather's. What I love about all of Mrs. D's books is that they share a message. They teach the adults as much as the kids. This message in particular touched me. It is a reminder about seeing from the eyes of a child. Exploring the world with an open mind, an open heart, and enthusiasm. Life is full of blessings, and sometimes we forget to notice them. Thank you Mrs. D for another 5 star children's book." ~ 5 Star Review, Kirstin P., Sunshine, Bubbles and Books

About the Author

Mrs. D. (Olga D’Agostino), an award-winning children’s author, was born in western Ukraine. She lived in the historical city of Lviv, where she studied business in Lviv Business College and worked in the food industry. In 1992, she immigrated to the USA with her two small daughters and for years worked in her own business. In 2011, she began her career as a writer, focusing on writing children’s books that have meaning and provide valuable lessons. Two of her children’s books, The Trees Have Hearts and Good Morning, World!, won Mom’s Choice Awards in 2013. She is a member of SCBWI and speaks a few languages fluently. She lives in the famous town of Smithville, NJ, with her husband Patrick and a meticulous old cat named Nyda.

Published books by Mrs. D. include Carlo the Mouse on Vacation, The Trees Have Hearts, The City Kittens and the Old House Cat, Good Morning, World!, and Carlo the Mouse, Book 1: Too Many Rules for One Little Mouse. Coming in 2014: Runaway Clothes,The Royal Palm, Carlo the Mouse, Book 2: Now We're Talking!, and The Little Girl Praying on the Hill.

The full series of Carlo the Mouse and her new books, The Mysterious Life Inside a Closet, That Is How Things Are (two connected stories): The Autumn Wind, and The Kitten and the Sparrow, and three rhyming stories in Who Is Most Important in the Fridge? will be published in the near future. Her books are available in print on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as e-books for most popular electronic devices. For updates on Mrs. D.’s books, please visit her website: www.mrsdbooks.net.


* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *


Prize: $50 Amazon Gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
Contest ends: May 9, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Mrs. D and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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