So here we are, Merry Christmas! Can’t believe how fast December has gone, actually can’t believe how fast the year has gone. It’s the last day of 12 Days and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than to share with you all how to have the perfect Christmas. And when I say perfect, I really mean imperfect because I believe perfection lies in the imperfections of everyday. I’ve put together all my recipes, tips and tricks to having the most magical day ever.
The Perfect Christmas Morning:
You know that quote, “I’m only a morning person on Christmas”, well that could not be more accurate. Ever since my sister and I were tiny humans, we would run into each others rooms early on Christmas morning and then run downstairs to see what Santa had left us in our stockings. Our excitement would eventually wake our parents and grandparents up and we would sit around the living room by the tree opening our stockings. After that, we all head into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast, pancakes, fruit, hot chocolate and egg nog. Once the dishes have been cleared and washed, we’ll go back to the tree and open all of our presents while sipping on more egg nog and listening to Christmas music. It’s always the most chill, relaxed but exciting morning of the year.
Each family always has their own Christmas traditions, and I think that carrying those for generations hold so much meaning. But I also think that coming up with new traditions to pass on to your kids and grandkids are so special. Every year for Christmas my grandma made her special ‘holiday nugget’ cookies (our family recipe), and as I got older I began to carry on that tradition as well. My family has all the little things we do on Christmas that we’ve pretty much done my whole life, and carrying on those traditions no matter where we are always makes the day extra special. Traditions are rooted in family, remember to be thankful to have been blessed with your family, Christmas is rooted in family.
Fun Things To Do On Christmas Day:
- Play a big board game with your family
- Watch a Christmas movie (Santa Clause and Love Actually are always SO GOOD on Christmas day) and cuddle up with Christmas cookies and peppermint hot chocolate
- Play with all your new presents. I know this sounds like something kids do, but I promise everyone wants to sit there and try/check out all their new goodies
- Go look at all the Christmas lights and decorations around your neighborhood (or wherever you are)
- Shop!! I know this sounds crazy, but post-Christmas sales are the real deal
- Cook dinner…and try out a new recipe while you’re at it (festive recipes down below:)
- Festive crafts and DIYS- make paper snowflakes, homemade ornaments or DIY decorations… and you’ll be getting a start for next year
- Build a gingerbread house, bake some Christmas cookies, get your sweet tooth ready
- Lounge around all day in your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters… you deserve it!
The Perfect Cheese Platter:
Is there any other way to start a Christmas meal than with an over-the-top cheese platter?! To start off, grab a large board. Pick out 3-4 cheese of your choosing. My motto when it comes to cheese is the stinkier the better, but to each their own. Get different kinds of crackers or slices of a baguette and lay out on the board. Now arrange the blocks of cheese in the center. Fill up the open spaces with slices of fruit, bunches of grapes, jams or honeys and nuts. Always have a sweet and salty element on your board. And of course… serve with wine:)
One thing my family has started doing over the past few years is different kinds of tapas during festive meals. Tapas is the Spanish word for small plate/appetizer. Usually, we do these on slices of baguette or simply on crackers. Our go-to is a thin slice of baguette, garlic yoghurt, caramelized onions, grilled red peppers, prosciutto, a slice of camembert with sugar and bruleed with a blow torch (absolutely to die for). Others we have done are a slice of chorizo with asparagus and aioli, crab salad with avocado and caviar, as well as prosciutto, blue cheese, pear, honey and black pepper. These are so easy to make ahead of time and in bulk and are always the first to go at any dinner or gathering.
Grilled Garlic Prawns:
6 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
- Carefully split the prawns in half, you can leave the head on or you can remove it and use it to make a prawn head oil.
- Season with salt, pepper and any other desired herbs.
- In a large pan, heat butter and garlic on high heat until butter bubbles. Put prawns in the hot pan (meat side down). Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook another two minutes.
- Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.
Roasts are always the perfect center piece for a festive meal. Whether it’s turkey, chicken, pork belly or ribs, theres always a way to make it a little more Christmassy. Try spices like clove, all-spice, ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon as your dry rub. If you have access to it, using fresh spices (like whole cinnamon sticks) can do wonders. Adding a little bit of sweetness using oranges or cranberries is another way to amp up your roast.
One of the desserts I made this year was a tiramisu. I always thought that it was a technical and difficult dessert to make, but it couldn’t be easier. This boozy, creamy dessert will be a hit!
Lady fingers or pound cake
1 1/2 cups strong coffee
1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liquer)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup marscapone
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Cocoa powder, for dusting
- Start by whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla essence. Once soft peaks are formed, fold in the marscapone. Set aside.
- Mix coffee and Kahlua in a shallow tin. If you’re using pound cake, cut into strips the size of your container.
- To assemble: Start with a thin layer of the cream at the bottom of a clear class container.
- Dip your cake or lady fingers in the coffee mixture and form one layer.
- Add cream on top and spread evenly. Repeat this process until you’re done.
- Refrigerate for a few hours or over night. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.
Brandy Snap Canoli (A take on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Hennessy (brandy)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup marscapone
1/4 cup dark chocolate
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup candied nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)
Orange, to zest
- To make the shells of the canoli, bring the brown sugar, butter and syrup to boil in a pan (until it becomes a silky caramel).
- Pour the caramel into a mixture of flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add brandy and mix it in.
- Scoop spoon full of the mixture onto a baking sheet (with lot’s of space in between) and bake at 375 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes.
- Once baked, leaved to cool for exactly 90 seconds, then shape around a wooden spoon or rolling pin until set.
- Set the shells aside until ready to fill and eat.
- For the filling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Then add marscapone and gently fold in.
- Add chopped chocolate, cranberries and nuts to the mixture and grate in half of the orange zest. Gently mixed.
- Right before eating, put the filling in a piping bag and fill the shells.
- Serve topped with powdered sugar and orange zest.
And with that I’m signing off for 2018. Thank you for an amazing year, can’t wait to see all the next has to offer.
Happy new year and I’ll see you in 2019!! xx
Hi everyone and happy day 9! I can’t believe we’re only a week out from Christmas, it’s going by so fast. I hope you’re all enjoying (or looking forward to enjoying) the holiday season with all of your loved ones. Today’s post is going to be two of my favorite cozy recipes for a cold winter evening. First is going to be an updated version of my smoky-ranch meatballs, and second will be my fresh pappardelle pasta with meat sauce. Hope you enjoy these and see you for day 10!
Minced beef and pork mix
1 or 2 (depending on amount of meat) packet of ranch seasoning
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Good squeeze of ketchup
1/4 cup of spring onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jar tomato sauce
Basil and other desired spices.
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Form meat into balls, about 2 tablespoons per meatball, and set aside.
- In a pot, heat up the tomato sauce over medium heat and mix with spices.
- Get another pan and heat it up with olive oil on high heat. When hot, begin cooking meatballs. Cook until browned, then set aside.
- Put meatballs into the pot of tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Right before serving, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover to melt.
- Serve hot.
Fresh Beetroot Pappardelle with Meat Sauce:
For the pasta-
3 cups all-purpose flour
For the sauce-
1 pack of minced beef
3/4 jar of tomato sauce
2 zucchinis, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta-
- Chop the beetroot and put it in a small pan over high heat with a little bit of olive oil and water. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Pour out liquid into a small bowl and set aside. Use muslin cloth or an old dish towel to squeeze all the liquid (and coloring) out of the beets.
- While cooking the beets, put the flour in a large bowl and form a small well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and begin to knead the dough while slowly adding the beed juice. Knead for about 5 minutes.
- Once well knead, flour well and pass through a pasta machine (roll it out as thin as it will go).
- It’s meant to be a rustic pappardelle, so hand-cut it as thick or thin as you want.
- When ready to cook, cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.
For the sauce-
- Start by sautéing the meat, onions, zucchini and garlic with a little bit of olive oil.
- Once cooked, add the tomato sauce and half of the basil (and any other desired herbs and spices) and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once pasta is cooked slowly fold it into the sauce.
- Serve hot and topped with fresh basil and pecorino cheese.
Happy cooking! xx
Living in Singapore, long weekends would typically consist of a quick trip to paradise, Phuket. Going about once a year for a while, it’s become one of our home away from homes. After our last trip, I decided it was finally time to sit down and share all the things I love about Phuket with all of you. I will leave all the links down below and hope you venture out to this little gem of an island in South East Asia!
After staying at a bunch of different hotels and resorts, we finally found our favorite and go-to place to stay: Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. While it is about an hour drive from the airport, the resort sits only ten minutes away from the downtown area (Patong and Karon) making it super easy to get around. The resort is sprawled out over a huge piece of property with it’s own private beach, tennis courts, an amazing spa, two tropical pool, multiple eateries/bars and stunning, comfortable rooms. While the rooms may be a little older than others, they’ve been kept really well and feel modern with a vintage twist. The private beach is only a few steps away from the pool area and are lined with lounge chairs and bean bags, while crystal blue water and really clean sand. They offer a range of water activities from jet skiing to kayaking and surfing. In the middle of the day when you’re looking for a quick bite, you can just head over to Ton Son out by the pool to order anything from Thai to Italian and American. You can also head over there for before-dinner drinks where they offer classic cocktails as well as tropical/Thai cocktails. One of my favorite things at the hotel was the energizing shots they had at breakfast. Every morning they had a couple different kinds to really get your body working and wake you up. My favorite was the watermelon-chili shot which was just to die for. And what’s a trip to the beach without some relaxing time at the spa? Le Spa offers different treatments from massages to scrubs and facials, all beach and tropical themed. Our time at Le Meridien is always made even better by the super friendly and helpful staff. We absolutely LOVE staying at Le Meridien and cannot wait to spend more nights there.
Like I mentioned above, the food at the hotel is not like any others. It’s very different and authentic, but still really good. However, I love spending time around Patong and Karon exploring other places to have meals. One of our all time favorites is Eat. Bar & Grill in Karon. Priding themselves on incredible service and hearty, rustic food, the little bar/restaurant serves burgers, steaks and other unique dishes. After going there four times over our past two trips, I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there. Some that I would recommend are the burger and fries, the chateaubriand (steak), the beef tartare, the lobster cappuccino, and most importantly the mojito bucket (5 servings of a mojito in one big bucket, photo below). This year we also went to Baan Rim Pa, which is one of the only “fine dining” restaurants in Phuket serving authentic Thai food. We had the chicken and crab Thai dumplings, grilled eggplant salad, minced pork with noodle crackers, green curry with chicken and stir-fried morning glory, and a really good passion fruit mojito. The food was all really good and some of the best Thai food I’d ever had (and I’ve had a lot of Thai food). Other than those two places, we also love going to different seafood restaurants along the water front and trying different dishes. As most of you know, my family LOVES food and one reason we love going back to Phuket so often is because of the huge variety of amazing restaurants to chose from.
While you can have your hotel arrange a car/transport for you, one way I love to get around is by taking a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is motorcycle powered vehicle with seating for passengers attached to it. They’re commonly found around South East Asia and are open air. I love driving back to our hotel at night after dinner with the wind blowing through my hair and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore in the background. Depending on where you flag one down, a 10-15 minute drive can be anywhere from 10-12 SGD, which may seem a bit pricy but is normally much less than having your hotel arrange transport for you. If you are around Patong or Kata beach, it’s really easy to walk around. Whether you’re beach hopping or looking around the market, I always say that walking around is one of the best ways to explore a new destination. And the excitement of Phuket nightlife makes the evening a lot more fun and interesting.
What I Wore:
When I go to the beach, my absolute must-have is a ton of bikinis. I love mixing solids with solids and solids with prints from different brands. Some of my favorites for bikinis are Cotton On, Victoria’s Secret (now Pink), She In and Hollister (and Jolyn for suits that won’t budge). I don’t like wearing the same suit more than once a trip (I know, I’m a snob), so I love having variety in my suitcase. In addition to suits, I wear all different kinds of cover-ups and summery rompers and dresses that work at both the beach and a casual meal out. For sunglasses, I personally don’t love wearing nice/high-end glasses at the beach because I love spending time in the water and body surfing waves so I’m always paranoid that I’m going to lose a nice pair. I typically have a couple cheap pairs of Cotton On sunglasses that are perfect for the setting and look bomb in all those insta photos. For a more in-depth look, check out my summer beauty post (linked below)!
I always love a good beach getaway, and Phuket is the perfect destination for a stress-free and relaxing weekend away. Have you been to Phuket? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do there? If you haven’t what’s your favorite beach getaway destination? Comment down below!
I hope you all enjoyed this post, and I will talk to you soon!
Got my Singaporean fix from QQ Kopitiam in Pasadena. The Laksa was super authentic and delicious, just like it would be at home! It was a really generous serving for a super reasonable price (two main dishes and one bubble tea was $21 with tax).
I know I may be a little late to hop on the bandwagon, but I am beyond obsessed with Halo Top. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Halo Top is an extremely low calorie, high protein ice cream (not that you can tell, it’s amazing!). The calories range from 240-360 calories depending on the flavor, so one serving is never more than 90 calories. A few of my favorite flavors are Birthday Cake, Sea Salt Caramel and Mint Chip.
This beautiful spread is from the Granville at the Americana in Glendale. They have a menu full of modern yet homey dishes that are absolutely delicious! This was the bacon & blue burger with a side salad, the Santa Barbara chicken sandwich, a side of sweet potato fries and the uptown mac & cheese. I would also highly recommend the chicken and blue flatbread (not pictures). A perfect stop for lunch or dinner during a day of shopping!
*As seen on BuzzFeed* Sushi Stop is a super affordable (and yummy) location in Pasadena (they have other locations too). At $3.25 for most of their dishes, it’s hard to spend more than $16 a person (and that’s if you are eating A LOT). Ranging from sashimi sushi to baked rolls to udon and tempura, they have everything you would ever want. To be honest, after eating so mush sushi in Japan, I was a little skeptical of this, but it did not disappoint!
Just throwing this in here because I miss Disneyland. A beautiful mickey mouse-shaped beignet (and some Mint Juleps) from New Orleans Square at Disney.
One of my favorite things about living in LA is finding all the small (what I like to call) hidden gems of the city. Gloria’s Cafe is a small Mexican-inspired breakfast/brunch restaurant tucked away in the back streets of Highland Park. Pictured above is the savory waffle (amazing!) and the breakfast taco. I would also highly recommend their breakfast sandwich which comes on a burger bun with pulled pork and scrambled eggs. For a main dish and (a big a**) iced coffee, I usually pay $14 (including tax and tip).
Where should I go next? Comment your favorite LA spots down below! And if you try one of these places, let me know what you think:)
QQ Kopitiam is a small Singaporean cafe/restaurant located across from the Pasadena City College on Colorado Blvd. A Kopitiam (Kopi for short) is a traditional coffee shop found in many South East Asian countries, including Singapore. As most of you know, I’ve lived my whole life (up until now) in Singapore, and was in serious need of some comfort food.
The restaurant is located on fairly quiet street, but stands out from the big, red sign. Staying true to traditional Kopi style, before getting seated at your table, you order your food at the counter and pay right there. There was an older couple, the wife running the cashier and the husband running the kitchen, who owned the place. As soon as we walked in, the lady quickly welcomed us and starting listing off suggestions. She suggested the Laksa (rice noodles in a coconut, curry soup) and Hainanese Chicken Rice (steamed rice with chicken boiled in a ginger broth), both of which are famous Singaporean dishes. Once we ordered (I ordered the Laksa), I started up a brief conversation with the couple and found out that they were both Singaporean and had only been in business for around four years. We chatted for a little bit about where in Singapore we lived and what our favorite Singaporean dishes were.
Laksa is a dish that Singaporeans feel very close to, as it’s served at every Kopi and Hawker stall (Singaporean style outdoor food courts). It is loaded with pungent ingredients including curry leaves, lemongrass, and sambal (a type of chili sauce), making it an acquired taste. Foreigners (or tourists) often have a hard time handling the aroma and flavor of laska, but for Singaporeans it’s a bowl of comfort.
I would 100% recommend QQ Kopitiam for anyone in the area, whether you’re Singaporean or not (the friend I went with wasn’t Singaporean and she loved it!). If you stop by QQ Kopitiam, let me know in the comments below and tell me what you think.
Website (Yelp): https://www.yelp.com/biz/qq-kopitiam-pasadena
Number: (626) 696-3179
Address: 1491 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am to 7pm