Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Creamy Coconut Mushrooms and Spinach Pasta

We are not Italians but Italian food seems to dominate our weekly food menu. The biggest fans are my kids. Even the toddler doesn't get tired of it. Their all time favourite is pasta. Cook it any way and it is always a hit!

If given a choice, creamy pasta and lasagne would be their pick. The creamy and the gooey cheesy texture, almost like mac and cheese would be their demand but we all know too much of anything is never good.

So let's get straight to today's recipe. It is vegetarian and vegan friendly too. This recipe is so versatile that you can un-vegetarianise (sorry that's not even a real word, I know) it by adding some pieces of chicken breast or left over pulled pork or chicken, roast chicken, bacon, turkey ham, prawns or tuna flakes or chunks. The options are limitless.


250gm Drum wheat semolina spaghetti cooked al dente
200gm baby spinach (washed and drained)
200gm white mushroom sliced (Portobello mushrooms would give a meatier taste)
1 large onion sliced thin (we want rings)
2 heaping tablespoons coconut cream (or more, depending on your preference)
2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
If you like some heat, add sliced fresh chili before taking out saute onions or chili flakes to give it some oomph! If you want to indulge then turn this pasta into a star by replacing oil with pure butter and add a little fresh cream towards the end to give it a glistening appeal.


Saute the onions in a heavy deep pan with a tablespoon of oil until they are brown and aromatic. Remove and drain them on kitchen towel. Add another tablespoon of oil and the sliced mushroom into the same pan. Saute until these turn brown too. Be patient as this may take a while. Once the mushrooms sucks up all its sweat, that's when they are perfectly cooked. Raw foodies will not agree with me on this.
Return browned onions back into the pan, throw in the baby spinach and give it a quick stir. You can add some salt at this point or towards the end before adding the cooked spaghetti.
Before adding coconut, you must dilute it with some warm water and let it simmer for a minute. Then mix to combine all ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste and finally add in the cooked spaghetti. Lunch is served! 

But, like I mentioned earlier, my kids enjoy cheese on almost anything and are able to tolerate it, I added 1/2 cup of shredded, aged cheddar cheese. 
This is the point the spaghetti in the pan starts speaking to you, sploosh, sploosh, sploosh.

Vegans, look away.
Whole load of cheese

A pictorial guide just for you.

This makes a great tiffin food for kids to pack in their insulated lunch box. I made this spaghetti at 11.30 am and it was still warm at 2pm.

Hope you will enjoy making and eating it as much as we did and let us know how was it. If you improvised it, please do share that too.

Here is a prove! My toddler enjoying her gooey lunch. It was so good, she decided to eat it with her fingers. Finger licking good.

Thanks! Do stay tuned and if you liked this recipe, go over to my recipe page for more.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A date in the skies

I'm horribly lazy, I must confess. My dear husband as well, is no shining example of a man driven to not sit still in the weekends. We're both made for each other. Our enemy is that tiny but powerful button on our alarm clock, camouflaged with a cute sounding name like 'Snooze'. 

It was a Saturday following an early Friday evening. The best of plans were laid and we were to comfortably complete our mission without any hindrances or delays. The kids were to sleep in, my mother accommodatingly giving us a chance for a real date, a real date in the skies literally.
Alas, 'snoozing' more than twice, I suddenly jolted up from my pillow realizing we were 20 minutes late and running. Breakfast and the morning bathroom rituals were cast aside asunder. Suffice to say, we weren't giddily excited and buoyant with our moods having to sacrifice such vital parts of our Saturday mornings.

The rush to our destinations were peppered with accusations from each of us on who was supposed to be responsible for our lack of tardiness. Imagine a scene from The Amazing Race, but with much lesser attractive people and less subtle dialogue. You'll get the picture just fine. The rest of it was, as they say, history.

Hundreds of adventure seeking enthusiasts were already lining up even before the crack of dawn to get their hands on tickets for a tethered ride on hot air balloon while we had ours handed to us along with a media pass. Tickets that awarded us an experience to be in an actual hot air balloon flight with no strings attached! Skipping coffee was so worth it!

Armed with a sophisticated digital camera and media pass, I went American Sniper (film) and shot every potential target - click, click, click non stop. I even crashed a wedding proposal and got a close up pose. It wasn't long after that I remembered Uncle Ben's advice to Peter Parker from Spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility" and eased off a little. 

There were 20 hot air balloons from across the globe sharing Putrajaya's airspace on that day (14 March 2015). It took more than five balloon crew members and about 15 minutes to set up one air balloon. It involved spread opening the balloon with big fan blowers while it lay deflated on the ground like a sleeping giant and heat from big gas cylinders to push it up to the sky. Once it was up, we climbed into the rattan basket attached to the balloon while the balloon crew anchored it to the ground with their body weight.

Scared, exhilarated and excited . I was a bag of mixed emotions in that tiny basket because that's all it was, a basket. It had no safety net, no parachutes and not even a first aid kit in it. I stood close to the pilot, almost crushing her against the basket so she never got a chance to climb out with me in it because of a silly thought, what if the balloon takes flight without a pilot? Would I jump or pilot it myself? Yet, I stayed in as it ascended into the clear crisp morning sky. 

Take off was just one word command, "OK!" from the pilot and we were off the ground in a heartbeat. Never had I seen buildings, people and cars looks so tiny so quickly as we travelled swiftly up into the sky. Once high up in the sky, we were at the mercy of the wind that had the power of navigation. It could blow us to whichever direction it fancied.

After a knee trembling lift off, the serenity, stillness and silence I felt once up in the sky was simply awesome that I should’ve sang 'Everything is awesome' Lego movie song. For couple of minutes no one spoke and had their gaze transfixed into the vastness of the horizon, each from their little corner in the basket. I could hear the gentle wind blowing but all that came to an abrupt end when more heat from burner was released into the big balloon that was ferrying us.

There aren’t many parts that make up a hot air balloon but I kept a watchful eye on the burner because our safety depended on it. The pilot also gave us a brief history lesson on hot air balloon. I was very contented sharing the basket with her and wished the flight never came to end. Right up to the point I started probing her of some hot air balloon mishaps. Note, never ask about mishaps while you're still flying.

"Let's land this bugger" said the pilot shortly after our Q&A and these words were like music to my ears. I was eager and happily welcomed her suggestion. We landed on a small vacant spot in between some houses. It was still windy during landing, so had to prepare for a rough landing. “Keep knees bent” she instructed, followed by a loud thud and skid. We were dragged by the wind a few metres away from our landing spot but just before the edge of a small hill. Going over that would have landed us on hard tar road.

Some residents flocked to the hot air balloon and took pictures with us. We obliged because we were sitting ducks in the basket, awaiting for the balloon crew to help anchor it to the ground before we can climb out. If one of us were to jump out prematurely, the balloon might ascend back into the sky. I was back at crushing the pilot between me and the basket, so she had no chance to jump out.

It all ended well and will be an experience we shall not forget. We even made a video interview with Ashley from Capital FM 88.9
Being interviewed by Ashley from Capital FM and sharing our experiences on a hot air balloon.

For more pictures, check out my other post, Flying with no wings (coming soon...)

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