20 June 2014

Aila is 11 Months


Only 1 more month and our baby will be ONE! To think that this time last year I was in New Zealand getting ready to pop! Time sure does fly when you're having fun :D

Some new developments for this month:

She can say her own name! ...Sorta lol she will mimic me when I say her name and it sounds really close. Reia didn't really mimic me at all at the same age which goes to show that all babies are different. She also says mama mama when she wants me or is hungry.
Saying her own name

Second and third teeth are through! I thought she would have most of her teeth by now but I guess I was wrong. Her other front tooth is almost through so she bites on her fingers.

She still isn't too interested in real food but loves rice crackers! She only eats about a heaped tablespoon of baby food a day. She eats more when it's finger food and she can get her hands dirty and make a mess. Speaking of mess, she spat food at me for the first time this month -_-

She has curly hair which is long at the front and short at the back. The hair at the back looks like it has been neatly trimmed but it's all natural. I am interested to see what her hair will look like grown out. Reia's is straight up top and curly at the ends but it doesn't look like Aila will have  that. It is looking more like soft loose curls, but we'll see.

She waves her arms when she is frustrated and claps when she is happy! I have been thinking about whether I should start her on baby signing or not as she is already pretty easy to read. Maybe when she has trouble communicating to me what she wants. I am trying to start teaching her what "No" means as she is always pulling books and things down and tearing the place apart. She just smiles and laughs at me so it's not going so well haha. But she can understand when I say "uh uhh!" (another form of no), and "peh" (spit it out). We will work more on "no" this month.

She loves going outside on the deck and will make a beeline for my pot plants when the slide door is open. My poor tomato plant is on her hit list.

If you don't see Aila in the living room, she is probably playing by the front door, eating a shoe. She loves crawling down there and nibbling on shoes no matter how many times I try to stop her! I think it's because it's cooler down there and also she likes strappy things and will go for mine or Reia's sandals.

She can wave bye bye! The first time she did it was in the parking lot after we came home from church which surprised me as I hadn't actively tried teaching her that.

Not new but she is LOUD. A loud crier, laugher, squealer, rambler etc.

She pinches me and loves trying to rip off the mole on my neck :(

She is always trying to play with Reia's toys which Reia does not approve of. However, Reia has learnt that all she needs to do is substitue her toy with something else to distract Aila. Works every time lol.

She can pull herself up on things quite easily now and also figured out how to sit back down! She also  can stand for a couple seconds at a time before tumbling over. We play a game where we count down from 3 and will let go of her so she is standing by herself and she loves it. She will let go of me by herself! The longest was about 7 seconds. The first time she stood by herself, I don't think she was aware that she wasn't holding on to anything until she started losing her balance and then she started flailing her arms around lol.

She has become a handful to put to bed. I have given up feeding her to put her to sleep because it just energizes her and she will be up for another 3 hours! What has worked though is tv. I will flatten out our Japanese couch to make a bed and she'll watch, and eventually fall asleep by herself. Either that or I just let her cry it out while I try to get some shuteye! Reia will usually tell me she is sleepy and ready for bed but will change her mind once she is in bed by herself. *sigh* Sometimes I would just like them to be in bed by 10 so I can have a shower and watch a movie or something! But that's motherhood for ya.

Wouldn't crack a smile, but lovin' her "jinbei" outift!
All in all, another adventure with Aila our almost 1 year old :)

13 June 2014

Peanut Butter Hummus


I have wanted to make hummus for a long time but have never had that strange ingredient tahini, which is sesame paste. I have never seen this before and wouldn't know where to start looking for it in Japan! The other day, I had another craving for some hummus but knew I couldn't make it without that darn tahini. Or could I?

Enter peanut butter! The common pantry item which substitutes amazingly for tahini. You seriously can't tell the difference. Chunky or smooth would work here. If your into a bit more texture, go for the crunchy peanut butter. If you want a smoother dip, go for creamy/smooth peanut butter. I used Skippy's Creamy Peanut Butter as that's what I had.

There are a whole bunch of recipes out there but really, you don't need cups and spoons. Just your taste buds. Actually, after reading through a couple, I found that some people don't even use tahini lol. Guess I have been waiting for nothing! But anyway...

I used two 380 tins of chick peas and eyeballed the rest.

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Peanut Butter Hummus

2 tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed
6 Tbs peanut butter
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin powder
2 Tbs olive oil
water to desired consistency
salt and pepper

Blend all together and enjoy with veges or flat bread.
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I used a blender for this. Wrong choice! It got all stuck down the bottom from lack of liquid. A hand mixer worked so much better and gave me more control over the consistency. Also, I found that it needed a lot more water than I expected. I kept on adding more until it became smooth. I ended up adding a lot more than 2 Tbs of olive oil too. It just depends on what you are after.

You could also add lemon or lime juice, herbs, spices, cheese,  pesto, avocado, chili, sun dried tomatoes, olives, or yogurt. Anything really! 

I love the idea of adding cheese or sun dried tomatoes. Might have to try that next!

12 June 2014

2 Egg White Pavlova


After being on a cookie making rampage the last couple of days, I was left with some unused egg whites. Usually I stick these in a small container in the fridge with the intent to use them later, but I never do and just end up throwing them away. Sound familiar? This time however, with a lot of persuasion from Reia, I decided to make a pavlova! 

A pavlova is a meringue dessert topped with fresh cream and fruit and is one of our national treasures as a dessert in New Zealand! Sorry Aussies, but it's true.

The first ever pav I made by myself was seriously a thing of beauty. It was crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, just like a pavlova should be. It was tall and round and didnt crack or crumble anywhere. When I finished putting the last pieces of fruit on it I thought to myself, "Well that wasn't so hard!" It must have been beginners luck because I have not for the life of me been able to pull it off again! The pavs that followed were always flat, hollow, or thin looking. Still tasted pretty good but they weren't that heavenly piled meringue that I wanted. 

With this pav that I made today, I only had 2 egg whites and knew it would be a small wee thing. I tried a new recipe that called for 4T of boiling water which was new to me. It was a no-fuss, one-bowl type recipe. It started off looking amazing in the oven, but as it cooled it sunk into a miniature little thing. I guess that was to be expected. It didn't have a crisp outer shell, but it did have a lot of soft marshmallowiness going on! It was actually quite delicious! I decided to blog about it to remind myself what I can do with left over egg whites so bear with me.

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2 Egg White Pavlova

2 egg whites
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
4 Tbs boiling water

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and prepare tray with foil or baking paper.
Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk for 15 minutes.
Spread mixture onto tray into a circle.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C and then 45 minutes at 150°C.
Cool in the oven completely and top with cream and fruit.

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Pretty easy recipe but it cuts some corners. Also, a lot of liquid oozed from the pav which might have been from over whipping. I didn't mind though because it gave it a caramelly self-saucing effect which was kinda cool. The result was a small, very soft and smooth pavlova. It tasted pretty good! I topped it with fresh cream and cherries. I didn't have time to think about presentation as my guests that morning were just about ready to leave when I remembered that I had it! Dolloped on the cream, chucked on the cherries and it was good to go. They thought it was delicious which was good enough for me. DH also gave it his tick of approval :)

This recipe is good for those odd left over egg whites that you want to get rid of but probably not something you would use for a gathering or pot luck. They say not to put your pav in the fridge, but this one was fine as it didn't have a crust. It actually improved the taste as it got to soak in a bit more of that oozy caramel goodness.

Next time I will attempt at making a Japanese roll cake that was highly recommended to me by my Japanese friend! She said you can't go wrong with it. It will be a first for me making a roll cake so hopefully she is right!

06 June 2014

Japanese Chocolate Chip Cookies


I know, I know, I made cookies yesterday...

My sweet tooth has been out of control lately! It's another rainy day today and with the girls asleep and my tummy rumbling, cookies were naturally the solution to all my problems.

Now these aren't any kind of cookie, these are my FAVOURITE cookies in the whole wide WORLD!!! They aren't too sweet and are soft, thick and chewy. The only problem is that they are only my favourite when my Japanese friend makes them. When I make them they are ...meh. Still yummy! But meh compared to hers. Nevertheless, I made these ones today in an attempt to finally replicate them! I was almost successful but fell short somewhere... The recipe is all in Japanese so maybe that's why. Even though they weren't as amazing as my friends, I decided I needed to blog about them so that I wouldn't have to always re-translate the recipe in my mind. And hopefully I will be able to make them just as well as my friend does one day ~(^◇^)/

I had to really use self control eating these. The recipe makes 9 and I eeeeeasily ate 6 until I realized my treasures were almost gone. I was at a dilemma. I only had 3 left! Do I save some for Reia and Jun? Or do I eat them all and clean up evidence that they ever existed? Hmmm... the latter sounded very appealing... but I could hear my thighs screaming "Nooooo!" so I sealed them in a ziplock bag and put them out of sight.

Now like I said, the recipe is in Japanese so I am going to attempt to translate it! This is a copycat recipe for Country Ma'am cookies which you can find just about anywhere in Japan. They are small soft cookies that come in a whole bunch of flavours with the most common being Vanilla and Cocoa. Other flavours I have seen are Strawberry, Apple Pie, and Almond Donut. Some of the weirder ones are Sesame Seed, Green Tea, and Corn Soup. Blehh!


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Country Ma'am Cookies


70g chocolate chips
50g butter (room temp)
30g brown sugar
30g white sugar
15g honey
1 egg yolk
110g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
10 drops of vanilla essence
9 aluminum cup cake liners
Kitchen scale (lifesaver when it comes to Japanese recipes as everything is in grams)

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Get out your aluminum liners and have them separated and ready on your baking tray. Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl.

2. Whip butter with a whisk in a large separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add in the white sugar, brown sugar and honey. Mix until the grittiness from the sugar disappears. 

3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence. Mix.

4. Change to a rubber spatula and add the sifted flour and baking powder. Mix by scraping the sides of the bowl, folding and pressing the two mixtures together as you go.

5. When it forms a dough, fold in the chocolate chips. 

6. Divide the mixture equally into 9 parts and put into liners. Each should weigh about 35g each (use your scale). 

7. Roll each cookie between your hands to make them round. Flatten the tops a little with a fork to make thick disk shapes.

8. Bake for 12 minutes.

9. They should still be soft and light brown when they come of the oven. When they are completely cool, you can take them out of their cup cake liners. If you are too hasty like me, they will fall apart and crumble in your hot little hands!

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And that, my friends, is how you make a good Japanese Chocolate Chip Cookie!

You're welcome!

*Update* Jun came home late that night so I ended up eating the remaining cookies lol FAIL 

05 June 2014

Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have been having a real craving for cookies for a long time now. But whenever that "pang" would strike, I would never have all the right ingredients. Sugar but no butter. Chocolate but no eggs. It's probably a good thing I didn't! Today, however, I had all the ingredients I needed to make cookies! I may or may not have been hoarding these ingredients, waiting for that special moment I could sink my teeth into a warm, homemade cookie...

My cookie of choice was one that would take me back to the taste of my home land, New Zealand. One that would appease my hunger for a Cookie Time cookie. One that I have been dying to try out for a long time now. It was none other than .........(drumroll please)......... the Apricot and Chocolate Chip Cookie! If you are anything like my Japanese friends, then you probably haven't heard of these before. I have had a craving for cookies with dried apricots in them ever since my friends and I started discussing dried fruits in Japan. There are so many here! They have dried kiwi fruit, mango, pineapple, even melon! When my friends came to visit me, they brought a plethora for me to try. I was not a big fan of the pineapple or mango but the kiwi fruit and melon were surprisingly good! I guess I should say that I was not a big fan of dried fruits to begin with. When my friends and I were discussing our favourites, I told them that if I had to choose, I would probably say dried apricots. They gave me a bewildered look that said Dried apri-whats? Needless to say, they had never had them before. Come on fellow kiwis! If you are from NZ, what is the first dried fruit that comes to mind apart from raisins, prunes and dates? Apricots, no? I would think with our Cookie Time Apricot Bumper Bars being pretty popular that dried apricots were quite common in cookies and things... but I digress. 

After my friends left my house, I started doing the laundry only to hear the doorbell go off. It was one of my friends who had returned to give me a packet of dried apricots that she had just found at the shop across the street! Finally, I had everything I needed! How did she know?? I opened the bag to have a taste and I can say that yes, whole dried apricots are definitely my fav.

Side note: I had to go back to the store to buy another pack because the first packet was mysteriously eaten by a certain someone who shall not be named. Lol.

This recipe comes from kiwifamilies.co.nz I have never heard of this site before, but after a quick peruse, it looks like it has a lot of good information and ideas for families! *Subscribes*


The recipe is as follows:

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Apricot and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yields 16

100g butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/1/2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup milk or dark choc bits
½ cup dried apricots, diced

1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence and beat well.

2. Sift in flour and baking powder and combine with a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips and apricots.

3. Place tablespoons onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and press down with a fork to flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool.

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Quite a simple recipe to follow and the results were soft scrumptious cookies. Great with a tall glass of milk! Next time (yes, next time!) I would like to make an oatmeal version. MmmmMmmmm! I would also suggest to make sure to chop up the apricots to the same size at the choco chips.

Enjoy!