Thursday, May 24, 2012

Special Cake For Mom's Birthday

I wanted something different for my mom’s birthday this year as I had made a promise to myself that I would give my full effort and time to show my mom how much I love her. With this in mind, an idea came to me - baking a cake would be my special gift to her.

I browsed the net and searched for a recipe that would be delicious and still fit my mom’s healthy diet. I found a great recipe from Good Food magazine for a Light & Fluffy Chocolate Mocha Cake, a low-fat cake. See the recipe below.

Light & Fluffy Chocolate Mocha Cake



Softened butter (for greasing)
3 Large eggs
85g Caster Sugar *I used C&H Superfine Sugar for this)
70g Plain flour
1 tbsp Cornflour *Cornstarch
2 tbsp Cocoa
½ tsp Baking powder *I used Kraft’s Calumet Baking Powder for this

Icing and filling

25g Dark chocolate - chopped *I used Lindt 75% dark chocolate for this because my mom loves dark chocolate; however, be warned that using 75% chocolate will make the icing bitter
1 tbsp strong black coffee
100g light soft cheese *I used the Kraft Philadelphia Extra Light Soft Cheese Mini Tubs
100g 0% Greek yogurt *I used FAGE Total 0% yogurt for this
2 tbsp Icing sugar *C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar


15g Dark chocolate - chopped - *I also used Lindt 75% dark chocolate for this


I heated the oven to 180oC (if fan-forced oven) or to 160oC (if gas oven). I lightly buttered and lined the bases of 2x18cm sandwich tins with baking paper. Then I whisked the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes using an electric hand whisk. The mixture increased greatly in volume and was thick enough that it left a trail on the surface when I lifted the whisk blades.

I sifted the flour, cornstarch, cocoa, and baking powder over the surface and folded it gently using a large metal spoon. I divided it between the tins, spread the mixture to the edges, then I baked for 15-20 minutes until the cakes were well risen, had begun to shrink away from the sides of the tins, and spring back when gently pressed. I left the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then rotate on top of a rack.


I microwaved the chocolate and coffee together on medium heat for 20-30 seconds until the chocolate had melted. I stirred until it smoothened and slightly cooled. I beat the soft cheese with the yogurt and powdered sugar until smoothened, spooned half the mixture into a small bowl and stirred in the melted chocolate then set it aside.

I put one cake on a serving plate and spread the yogurt mixture on it. I covered the cake, then spread the chocolate yogurt mixture over the top.


I microwaved the 15g dark chocolate on medium heat for about 20 seconds until it melted. I stirred it gently until smoothened, then drizzled it all over the cake.

After I had finished baking this cake for my mom, I confidently gave it to her as a present on her birthday. She cried and ate it immediately and, according to her, she loved it and was touched by this special gift I gave her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aria Restaurant Experience

I visited a friend in Denver last week. It’s been a year since we’ve seen each other so we decided to dine out. I found this coupon on Waka Network for a 44% discount at Aria Restaurant. An hour after arriving at Denver, we headed straight to Aria Restaurant.

The Place

Aria is a restaurant in Denver, Colorado that serves classic world cuisine. They have a friendly staff who guided us the moment we walked into their restaurant.

The Food

Aria offers a variety of dishes inspired from different cuisines from all over the world. They serve meals for seasonal tasting, lounge time, lunch, and dinner.

For the appetizers, my friend and I had the Grilled Calamari Steak Sandwich. I was never really a fan of calamari but theirs is tender and juicy that I was instantly converted. My friend enjoyed it, too.

For the main course, we ordered the grilled lamb and seared duck. The moment the grilled lamb was served on our table, I knew it was going to be a hit. its enticing aroma was the prelude to it all. The first bite was exquisite. The meat was tender and the sauce was rich, creamy, and tasty. I finished the whole serving satisfied.

We tried the seared duck next. Compared to the grilled lamb, the seared duck lacked in flavor. Although it had a taste of its own, the grilled lamb lingered in my mouth. My friend, however, preferred seared duck over the lamb.

Another great part of our dining experience was the Chardonnay. The citrus taste of this wine complemented our meal.

Overall, we were completely satisfied with Aria Restaurant. My friend and I will definitely come back to try their other specialties.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Different Ways to Prepare Tofu

Tofu has a bad and tasteless reputation to many. However, tofu is a food you should never ignore. It has a lot of benefits and is imperative to one’s healthy diet.

Tofu, also known as soy bean curd, is made from curdling fresh soy milk. It has a plain and little nutty taste which absorbs any flavor combined with it. There are three different types of tofu available in the supermarket: the firm, the soft, and the silken tofu. The firm tofu is the best kind for frying and grilling. The soft tofu, on the other hand, is for pudding and scrambles, while the silken tofu is best for purees and smoothies. Tofu is rich in protein and high in calcium so you are assured to get plenty of health benefits every time you eat it.

Listed below are some of the different ways you can enjoy the tofu.

Stir-fry. If you find fried tofu rather boring, try something new. Instead of just frying the tofu in plain oil, it is best to cut the tofu into chunks and marinate it in soy sauce for about an hour. Fry the tofu in olive oil and wait until the tofu becomes crispy. Top it with grated ginger or slices of garlic. I’ve tried this recipe before and the tofu became more tasty.

Grill. In grilling tofu, cut the tofu in rectangles and marinate it into soy sauce, sugar, chili powder, and lemon juice. Leave it for hours or overnight. Grill the tofu on the griller and use the remaining marinade as sauce. This recipe is healthier because there is no oil involved in the cooking process.

Blend. Making tofu milkshake is easy as 1-2-3. Just combine silken tofu, ice, a fruit of your choice, and cream or milk in a blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and pour it into glasses. You might want to try the strawberry and tofu milkshake for a light and creamy taste.

Steam. For raw salads, steamed firm tofu is best. Just place the tofu in the steamer and wait for 8-10 minutes until the tofu is cooked. Wait until the tofu cools off and use it as topping for your salad.

Saute. Sautéing tofu is one of the quickest ways to prepare it. Slice the tofu into cubes and sauté it in oil. Add mixed vegetables and sauté for another three minutes until the vegetables are half cooked. I have served sautéed tofu and vegetables for husband and he loved it.

The next time you go to the supermarket, include tofu in your grocery list. Try these suggestions and make soy bean curd a part of your meal.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Than Just a Marshmallow

Ever since I was a kid, I have been a really great fan of marshmallows. I simply love its smooth texture and the way it melts in my mouth. I also love any dessert with marshmallows. And roasting marshmallows or putting them in my hot chocolate are my most favorite uses of marshmallows.

However, marshmallows are more than their fluffy texture and sweet taste. There are also several amusing ideas you can do with marshmallows.

1. Cupcake Frosting

Instead of using the normal frosting, I use marshmallows as substitute frosting. Minutes before the cupcake is done, I put a marshmallow or two on top of it and return it to the oven. And the result: a soft, sweet, and yummy frosting for my cupcake recipe.

2. Cake Decoration

Different colors and shapes of marshmallows can create a festive look on a regular birthday cake. You can easily decorate your cake by making flowers and other artistic garnish on the top or side of the cake. Marshmallows can also be used to stop the wax from trickling down a birthday candle. You just have to push a candle into a marshmallow. My mom shared this tip with me when she made a cake for my niece.

3. Brown Sugar Softener

To keep your brown sugar from turning into hard blocks, try using a marshmallow. Put a marshmallow into the sugar bag or container to consume the moisture. Marshmallows absorb the excess moisture that will keep the brown sugar soft for weeks. I’ve tried this before and it worked. I never saw a sugar clump in my sugar bag again.

4. Sore Throat Remedy
Whenever I feel a sore throat coming in, I eat marshmallows as first aid. I’ve read an article about it and tried it myself. Surprisingly, marshmallows soothed the pain and irritation in my throat. Marshmallow components have antibacterial properties, creating a soothing effect on inflamed membranes of the mouth and throat. It is also good for dry cough as it prevents further irritation.

These are just some tips you can do with a marshmallow. Try these ideas at home and see how useful marshmallows can be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blue Planet Grill: An Irresistibly Delicious Treat

I was browsing the internet when I came across a restaurant called Blue Planet Grill, specializing in hormone-free meats and freshly baked breads. I suddenly remembered my college friend who loves organic and healthy food. Assuming that she would like this restaurant, I bought the deal from and gave her a call. Since she has tried this restaurant before, she agreed to there with me again last Saturday.

The Ambiance

The atmosphere was really accommodating and peaceful. The place was clean and also had good decorations. Soft music and candles in every table make the perfect setting for a romantic dinner or an elegant evening with friends.

The Food 
Blue Planet Grill offers typical American dishes from soups and salads to burgers and waffles. The thing that separates it from other American restaurants is that their products do not contain any antibiotics, pesticides, and other growth stimulants.

For the appetizer, my friend and I ordered the creamy mushroom soup. The creamy mushroom soup had a delicious, rich mushroom taste. It was not like the other mushroom soup I’ve tasted that I couldn’t help but finish it completely.

Since I had a 20% discount coupon on the seafood salad, my friend and I ordered it. My friend loved the seafood salad and said that it was one of the best salads she has tasted, whereas I didn’t enjoy it that much because I am not really a fan of salads. I didn’t appreciate their salad with shrimp, vegetables, and other seasonings. My mouth just rejected the taste that I was not able to finish the whole serving.

For the main course, my friend and I both ordered the Beef Stroganoff and Sauteed Vegetables. The Beef Stroganoff quickly became one of my favorite dishes from them. It was well-made and savory; the meat is very tender and the flavors burst in your mouth. The Sauteed Vegetables was also delicious. The blend of the Teriyaki sauce and the asparagus was perfect.

We didn’t have time for dessert because their servings are very generous. We were overwhelmed and couldn’t ask for more.

The Service

The service was nice and the staff were friendly. Both suit the ‘fine dining’ theme and the lovely atmosphere of the restaurant.

Overall, my Blue Planet Grill experience was great. My friend and I both fell in love with their dishes especially the Beef Stroganoff. We will definitely come back to try their other dishes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

3 Must-Have Restaurant Deals

When planning to eat out, there are lot of things you should consider. You should take into account the place where you want to eat, the kinds of cuisine you prefer, the budget you have, and how healthy you want your food to be. After dealing with these myself, I browsed the net for restaurant deals that will match these tips and tried each of them. Check out these three must-have restaurant deals listed below for you.
#1 - Taj Palace Restaurant Deal from Waka Network

The first deal is the Taj Palace Restaurant’s $5 discount on food and drinks worth $25 from This restaurant is recommended for those who live in Austin, TX or in nearby areas, especially if you do not want to go far. Taj Palace serves North Indian Cuisine and offers Tandoori Specialties that are commended for its low calories and cholesterol. You can also save your money by purchasing this deal from the Waka Network deal site.

#2 - Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet Deal from Groupon

The second deal is from Groupon. Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet offers their Mediterranean Buffet Meal for half the price. This deal is for two to four people and comes with unlimited soft drinks. This deal is perfect for people who want an affordable buffet dinner with friends. Dimassi’s proudly serves authentic Mediterranean dishes and is located at Houston, Dallas, and Austin, Texas. This deal is also budget-friendly as you can get it for only $24 on Groupon. This restaurant is recommended for those who are on a heart-healthy diet and are living in Texas.

#3 - Sonoma Chicken Coop Deal from Valpak

Sonoma Chicken Coop lets you pay only $10 for a $20 worth of food through Valpak. They serve real fresh food that health conscious food lovers should really try. This restaurant is best for the people of San Jose, California. However, if you want to try the food and you leave near San Jose, it will be worth the time and money to go.

The above tips and recommendations are based on my experience. For better spending decisions, you can also check for reviews online to have more confidence in these deals and restaurants.
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