Category Archives: Miscellaneous

March Favourites + Win Five Double Passes to the Tesselaar KaBloom Flower Festival

It’s been such a fantastic month. With two birthdays in the house and the countdown to Easter, it’s been a month of blessings and celebrations in our home.

Our little boy turned nine, and we celebrated with a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Yarra Valley. I am sure most of you have seen the photographs or read my blog post by now. It was such a magical experience and another item ticked off our bucket list.

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

My birthday celebrations are almost always revolved around food, and this time we celebrated with a fabulous dining experience at Grossi Florentino (Grill). A delicious Tuscan experience at an iconic Melbourne restaurant!

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Easter celebrations were rather low key, just catching up with some friends over the long weekend. But we also had a fun time at the Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival in the Dandenong Ranges.

Everyone’s familiar with the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival, but for the first time this year, the farm fields have been opened out to the public for more than just tulips. Imagine rows and rows of so many different types of colourful flowers in bloom. The festival is on only for a short period; March 30 – April 15, 2018.

A stunning display of colour and spectacular views abound with fields filled with blossoming Begonias, Petunias, Sunflowers, Hollyhocks, Dahlias, Snap Dragons, Delphiniums and many many more….

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s plenty of activities lined up for the children, with each week taking on a different theme. We attended the Chocomania weekend, but there’s also the upcoming family fun days, music concert days, flower expo etc…..

Lots of great food options too which makes it a great space for a day trip with friends and family. And especially with the school holidays on, it’s perfect for a relaxing fun day with the kids.

The folks at Tesselaar have been very generous to giveaway 5 x double passes to 5 lucky readers. Isn’t that simply great!

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

To take part;

  1. Subscribe to the blog using your email address
  2. Comment below which is your favourite flower along with your email id (to get in touch with you if you win)

Terms and Conditions:

  • Competition open to all living in Victoria, Australia and 18+ years of age.
  • The competition will run from Apr 3rd to Apr 4th The winners will be notified by email and direct messaging and if I do not hear back within 24 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Do share the competition details with your friends too. All the best!

Getting onto the other favourites now;

It’s also been a month of easy cooking and more packed lunch boxes. And two recipes that I cooked often and also shared on my social media was this delicious, tangy lemon rice and a spicy scrambled cottage cheese dish, fondly called paneer bhurji in India.

Lemon Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Paneer bhurji - thespiceadventuress.com

Some of the other recipes I intend to try out soon are these;

I am just a huge fan of devilled eggs!

We go to IKEA just to feast on these meatballs, and now I have a recipe to make it at home itself.

This garlic capsicum chicken is just perfect with my veggie fried rice

This risotto has my name written all over it.

And this pasta can be my alter ego.

I think I am more in love with the photograph than the actual cake.

These chocolate sprinkle cookies are just stunning.

 

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February Favourites

A short and sweet month, that’s what I always feel about February.

The month always goes by fast and for us, it’s always a month of planning as Adi’s birthday falls in March; mine too. We are planning something really exciting on his birthday, so stay tuned for that info….

Coming back to Feb, it was a month of getting back into routine with schools reopened. After the holidays, it was such a welcome change to get back to our everyday lives and for me, especially to get back into the kitchen after a month long break.

One of my main goals this year and hopefully, future ones too is to send more packed work lunches as it is much more healthy (approaching 40s always makes you mindful) and also great for the wallet. And that means cooking food that’s simple, can be reheated and consumed easily yet tastes delicious.

And one such dish that I have been cooking a lot is Tomato Rice.

Tomato Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

It is such a versatile and easy to make rice dish that is delicious just with a raita as accompaniment or with any sort of veggies or grilled fish or meat. I had shared the recipe for this traditional South Indian preparation on my Facebook page and Instastories so if you missed it, make sure to check it out.

I have also started consciously putting an effort into our after school snacks. Adi is growing up and that reflects in his dietary needs too. He is ravenous when he comes back from school and needs something more substantial. Since he has his dinner much later, the snack has to be filling and healthy but light on the tummy so that he can enjoy his dinner too.

So I have been trying out so many different snacking options and one of our favourites is salsa, in all forms. We have been enjoying this mango salsa a lot but also this corn and sprouts salsa, which doubles up as a salad. Really healthy and delicious….

Sprouted beans and corn salsa - thespiceadventuress.com

Guess I have blabbered enough, now onto all my other favourites from around the Internet world….

This pineapple ginger tonic has so many medicinal benefits.

This salad is always on rotation in my home.

Guacamole on a Pizza! Bring it on…

Love the combination of Avocado, Mango and Yellow Lentils

Aloo Kachori – it was my staple breakfast while pursuing Master’s.

Who can say no to Falafel burgers?

A large batch of this makhni sauce in your freezer; a lifesaver for busy weekdays.

Gummy hearts and sparkling rose, it’s like a dream!

Totally making this for the next kids’ party!

Feels like this article was written for me….

Raising Sweet Boys and not Angry Men

 

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools)

You guys know how much I love growing herbs at home and so I have always fancied having a proper wooden herb garden, especially when I scroll through the stunning Pinterest images.

A lot of them would be DIY projects but I never considered that option as it seemed almost impossible to build a wooden structure from scratch. I did extensive online searching to find models that are feasible in my rented home but a solid wooden one (at least the kind I had in mind) was always on the expensive side.

So the idea remained a dream of mine, until recently.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

DIY Herb Garden - thespiceadventuress.com

As many of you already know, my parents were here visiting us for a few months late last year. Now my mom is a DIY queen and a very avid gardener too. So one day, while we were on the topic of gardening, I mentioned my desire to have a wooden herb unit, one that is practically designed yet big enough to grow many herbs at a time in small batches.

I showed her some of the designs I had in mind and she casually mentioned that it was nothing complex and quite achievable especially here, as all kinds of tools and resources are available for DIY purposes. In fact, of all the shops she visited, my mum fell in love with Bunnings!

Around this time, I got to learn more about Ryobi tools at a blogger’s event where I got an opportunity to handle their power tools and make a wooden serving platter. Even though that was a teeny weeny project that I got to do with the Ryobi experts beside me, it still gave a vague sense of ‘I think I can do it if I make an effort’, especially after those power tools made it feel real easy. An electric drill suddenly didn’t seem to be a daunting affair!

But with the excitement, came the apprehension too. What if I can’t do it? A long discussion with Sam and that inner voice telling me to try my hand at something new gave me the much needed confidence to say yes to this DIY project using the power tools supplied by Ryobi.

So without further ado, let’s jump straight in to the details of how I went about creating this beautiful wooden herb garden. And let me also inform you that this post is going to be a picture heavy one.

(I know the photographs might make you think that Sam did all the work but trust me, I did lots more than just take photographs!)

Step 1:

The right design:

Now this is a very crucial step and one you must spend considerable time on. I was looking for a design that is easy to put together yet one that is aesthetic and long term. I also wanted a structure that is portable as we are still renting and also one that can sit well in a small backyard space when we eventually get our first home.

After browsing through hundreds of images and online tutorials, I decided on this design from Garden Answer that was a perfect fit with my expectations. And their online tutorials were a great help to get a jist of how to go about the entire project.

Step 2:

The right tools:

This is where the Ryobi expertise came handy. While I was supplied the tools, you can easily purchase all Ryobi power tools at Bunnings. The tools are quite versatile which means they always come in handy for future uses too and not just for a specific project. Apart from the instruction manual, there are also online tutorials on how to use all the Ryobi tools on Ryobi TV which is so useful and handy if you are a beginner. The tools I used for this project were;

Circular Saw (1500W 184MM) (MODEL: #RCS1500-G | BUNNINGS I/N: 13549)

This mean rugged beast of a saw is surprisingly compact, not so heavy and quite easy to use. (And anyone who has seen me in real life would understand why lightweight is rather important for me). With great precision and power, this was absolutely necessary to cut out the wooden boards to the exact sizes and measurements. I was especially pleased with its comfortable grip which gave me total control to do the job.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Random Orbital Sander (18V ONE+ 125 MM) (MODEL: #R18ROS-0 | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210660)

Well, the job that took me the longest time was sanding. Thank God for power tools like these because I simply cannot imagine doing the job otherwise. The orbital sander was really easy to use and with upto 80% dust pickup efficiency, I didn’t have much cleaning up to do afterwards.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

18 V ONE+ Drill Driver Kit (MODEL: #R18DD-C155S | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210757)

A great drill driver combination kit for any project! Easy to use, convenient and versatile, this combo kit includes;

  • 1 x 18V drill driver (RCD1802)
  • 1 x 1.5Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L15)
  • 1 x 5.0Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L50)
  • 1 x fast charger (RC18120)

The high capacity 5.0Ah battery was a boon as I could get a lot of work done between charges. The compact design makes it very easy to use and it also has other features like variable speed control. Built-in LED work light and also a MagTray (which really helps keep those screws in one place).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Once I started using the tools, I realised that Ryobi products were not only affordable but also innovative with practical, intelligent features that makes it sought after by both novices and professionals alike.

Step 3:

Shopping for materials:

Thank God for Bunnings! Without the help of the amazing staff there, I could have landed in a bit of soup. From helping me pick out the right kind of wood to all the other supplies that I needed, they have been extremely helpful with their time and expertise.

While purchasing supplies, I would like to stress about the importance of investing in good quality safety materials like protective gloves, goggles, dust masks, overalls etc… Remember guys, safety comes first. Always!

Step 4:

Cutting and sawing:

I used treated pine for making this herb garden, all of which were purchased at Bunnings. So using the circular saw, all the wooden planks were cut into the desired sizes and measurements. I had to make adjustments to the measurements provided by Garden Answer to suit my needs and requirements.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 5:

Sanding:

As I already mentioned, the orbital sander was an extremely helpful tool as it required much lesser effort to other traditional methods. All the planks I used were sanded to perfection before being assembled.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 6:

Assembling:

Using the drill set, I assembled the structure beginning at the base and then moving on to the backside, the sides and finally the front portion (as depicted in the pictures below).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 7:

Staining and Plastic Covering:

Since I wanted the unit to match the deck area, I decided to use a wood stain in walnut shade followed by clear varnish. And finally, a layer of black plastic sheet was attached to the insides of the unit so that the soil does not come into direct contact with the wood thus prolonging the life of the wooden herb garden.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 8:

Planting:

I filled the unit with a specialized vegetable herb potting mix and then it was time to plant the herbs. I bought a few new ones and re-planted some of the existing ones from pots. I intend to plant more herbs eventually but just to get started; I planted the curry leaves, chillies, coriander, parsley, sage, chives, mint, rosemary, spring onion and thyme.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sheer Joy!

That’s the only way I can describe what I felt at the end of it. Something made by my own hands come to life….the sense of happiness is incomparable. And I am so encouraged by how easy it actually was albeit my apprehensions using the Ryobi power tools.

I can guarantee loads more DIY projects in the future.

Hope this post has inspired you to try out some DIY projects of your own and do not forget to tag #thespiceadventuress so that I can see it too.

And finally leaving you with my Top 5 Recipes using Herbs!

Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ryobi Tools. As mentioned, I was supplied with all the tools required for this project. The story, musings and all the hard work is entirely mine!

 

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

A crazy title, isn’t it? I can explain…..

Months ago, when I attended the ‘Kids Business Blogger’s Brunch’, I was introduced to Flexo – a unique rigid construction brick and flexible tendon combination toy for children. The mum mode was switched on and I spent a considerable time learning more about Flexo; all for my Lego crazy son’s sake.

Lego is serious affair in our home. It is not just a toy, because it makes its presence felt everywhere. And it always takes up my favourite spot on the couch, not to mention the floor!

We do encourage his Lego craze in a responsible manner as he has always exhibited much creativity with it. He is never happy to stop with the catalogue, instead goes on to constantly make thoughtful designs, projects etc… using it as a base to express his creativity and imagination.

And Flexo seemed to be the perfect addition to it.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Suitable for children above the age of six, Flexo is compatible with Lego as well as similar construction bricks. Apart from keeping your child engaged and away from unnecessary screen time, Flexo can be a good tool to develop fine motor skills along with fostering imagination and creativity in your child.

Also plays an important role in developing patience! I find many kids these days lack focus and concentration and toys like these have helped my son immensely with both of these. And when he gets onto a project, he is quite determined to get it done right returning back to it again and again rectifying mistakes till he is satisfied. Indirectly, I feel that this is a great skill to equip my son with.

The range of movement that Flexo tendons provide makes it a very unique addition to the brick enthusiasts. It’s available in different pack sizes and colours too. There are so many creative ways to use Flexo and can really lift your Lego creations up a notch.

The folks at Flexo were very kind to send me samples so that I could put it to the test before sharing my opinion here. When I gave it to Adi, there was only one condition I had – he needs to create something using Flexo and Lego that I can use for blogging. And this is what he came up with….

A little cute bowl for his food blogger mom!

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

So of course I did what I do best….make something that he would love to eat and also can be presented in his new Flexo bowl.

Considering the shape of the bowl, I decided to make Chocolate Tim Tam balls. We made these during the Christmas period (though I am so late in posting it here) which explains the Christmas decorations Adi insisted be a part of his bowl.

These chocolate balls need just three ingredients; Tim Tams, cream cheese and melted chocolate. It is one of the easiest treats to make and are fabulous edible gifts any time of the year.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Ingredients:

  1. 1 packet Tim Tam (Double Coat); use any variety you wish to
  2. 250gms cream cheese (softened)
  3. 300gms dark chocolate buttons
  4. For decoration
  • Grated chocolate
  • Sugar hearts
  • Edible silver balls

Method:

  1. In a food processor or using a rolling pin, crumb the Tim Tams and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the softened cream cheese and mix well to combine.
  3. Take a heaped tbsp each and roll into balls and place on a paper lined tray.
  4. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or longer till firm.
  5. Melt the chocolate buttons using the double boiler method or a microwave. Stir well to ensure that the chocolate mixture is smooth and without any lumps.
  6. Using two forks, coat each ball in the chocolate mixture, allowing the excess to drain and place on the paper lined tray.
  7. Garnish using the grated chocolate, sugar hearts and edible silver balls.
  8. Allow to set at room temperature and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Giveaway Time!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Flexo, I have two packs (Flexo standard pack orange and standard pack grey) valued at $180 to giveaway to one lucky subscriber. So if you have a Lego crazy kid at home, this would make an awesome gift.

To enter:

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id
  2. Comment below ‘what’s been the best Lego gift your child has ever received?’

Rules:

  • Giveaway open only to Australian residents
  • End date: Feb 11th, 2018
  • The winner will be randomly chosen and notified through email (so make sure you subscribe using your email).

All the best!

This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified by email. 

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne)

Fabulous 2018 folks!

Hope all of you are having a great start to the year. I have, for sure, begun the year with much positivity, happiness and enthusiasm for work, family, friends…..everything about my life.

While I do not set resolutions, I do set a lot of goals at regular intervals throughout the year. And one of my major goals for this year is ‘balance’.

As work progresses and so does my family and social commitments, I realize that I can stay on top of my game only if there is a balance between all these parts of my life. When you have a business of your own, it’s very easy to spill over work into family time and vice versa. So that’s where I am going to strive and strike balance. Better management and clear cut division of time so that my family does not feel I am working all the time.

Have you set any goals for yourself this year?

Speaking of family time, I am so excited to take Adi to his first ever circus show – Silvers Circus, touring Melbourne currently.

Circus was a big thing in my childhood. We hardly had choices like today when it came to kids entertainment so going to the annual circus show in town was a huge thing. And most often, we would be taken from school like a picnic and I would get pocket money from my parents to buy cotton candy or some popcorn – and oh my, that was a big treat.

Surprisingly, Adi has never been to a circus and when Silvers Circus got in touch, I was so excited. I know we are going to have a fabulous time for sure.

Owned by Swiss born Anna & Anton Gasser, Silvers Circus began its journey 40 years ago and has evolved into one of the Top 10 circuses of the world. Stunning artists, Las Vegas style illusions, innovative stunts, humor, modern production techniques and much more, the Silvers Circus is a captivating experience for the young and old alike.

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

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Silvers is currently touring Melbourne with shows at two locations, Mornington Peninsula (ended) and Dingley (January 31st to February 25th) with multiple show timings.

And they have been extremely kind to sponsor a giveaway i.e. one family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) for three different families to any show of their choice. Isn’t that awesome?

(This giveaway has now ended, and the winners have been notified by email)

So some rules;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email address (you can find the subscribe button at the top right hand side of the blog)
  2. Leave a comment below about what’s your most memorable experience visiting a circus.

Unfortunately, this one’s only for the Melbourne subscribers. Giveaway ends February 4th midnight and winners will be picked through a random draw and notified through email and on my social media channels.

Let’s hop on to top picks for the month of January;

This traditional South Indian dry chutney is super delicious and healthy.

5 easy steak marinades – and I love each one of it.

Indian style Nachos; yeah bring it on!

Baked but super crispy chicken wings; you definitely need this recipe in your life.

More fried chicken!

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is back on. Lots of interesting stuff and tickets are selling like hot cakes.

Do you have only one child? Why aren’t you having more? Won’t your child feel lonely? I am so tired of these questions. This article makes perfect sense and our reason is the second one ‘trust your gut’.

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2017 – a Reflection on the Year Gone by

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick WarrenThe Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

This line totally reflects the state of mind I am currently in.

As most of you would be aware, I was away on holiday from mid December to January, which saw me take an almost complete break from work.

Initially, it was a bit overwhelming and unsettling seeing the kind of content that most bloggers and influencers do over the holiday period, but soon I realised that the long break was a blessing in disguise for the very tired soul inside me.

Now that I am back, I realise that break was necessary as it helped me reflect on the past one year, both personally and professionally.

While the first half of 2017 was immensely gratifying, the latter half saw me going into a state of stagnancy. I had become too comfortable in my space here that I forgot to push myself creatively and by the end of the year, I was bored.

And boredom is not a great feeling especially for someone who is creatively inclined. But the break happened at the right time and looking back, I see it as a wakeup call. The first thing I did after the holidays is reflect on how to take forward my blog and everything else associated with it. Because for me, this blog is everything…it’s an extension of my soul, my very being and not just a job.

The best way to reflect for me was to go back and see for myself the kind of content I had created for 2017. Because that gives me the inspiration and the clarity on how I want 2018 to be….

And that’s exactly why I decided to do this roundup. It was hard to pick just ten recipes but these best reflect me and my food philosophies. Now if all of you could take a moment and let me know which of these is your favourite and also what do you expect to see from ‘The Spice Adventuress’ in 2018. Your feedback would mean a lot to me….

Before signing off, wishing all of you and your loved ones a blessed and prosperous 2018!

  1. Omelette Brochettes

This recipe was a major hit of 2017. After all, who doesn’t love eggs!

A quick and simple one, these brochettes are great as school snacks, potlucks or even as party canapés. Pair it with a great chutney and you have a clear winner on your hands.

Omelette Brochettes, a simple and delicious snack - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Salmon Kebabs

These salmon kebabs were the result of a happy accident. I had set out to make salmon croquettes, instead ended up making kebabs when I ran out of time. And it has become a hot party favourite in our home ever since.

It’s so simple and salmon is an excellent choice for making these kebabs and always a hit amongst our friends.

Salmon Kebabs - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns)

Another first for me this year. In spite of knowing that Parsi cuisine has some of the best dishes that India has to offer, I took so long to try some out. Started with this delicious prawn preparation that was quick to become a hot favourite at home.

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio (Parsi style Prawns) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry)

This recipe was a major discovery for me this year. Indian cuisine is so vast and the traditional dishes from each region continue to surprise me.

I was thrilled to learn this regional recipe that is popular in a few states in North India where the fenugreek is used as the main ingredient in a dish instead of as a spice. We all know how healthy fenugreek is and though this is a tad bit difficult in the preparation stage, I do make it occasionally for its health benefits.

Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo)

Tacos are a hot favourite in our home. It’s so easy to put together a whole meal in such short time and we like how it can be customized to each one’s liking. And I think tacos are great for bringing the family around the dinner table. One of my personal tacos favourites for the year was these delicious Fish tacos with pickled slaw and jalapeno mayo.

Crispy slivers of barramundi with sweet n’ salty pickled onions and carrots, finished off with jalapeno mayo to spice things up a bit. You ought to check these out for sure!

Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Moroccan Lamb Chops

This year’s Easter party was a big highlight as I prepared a feast for some of our closest friends. I chose to make a selection of dishes from different cuisines, but all flavours we enjoy.

And hands down, the winner of the feast was these delicious Moroccan Lamb Chops that so many of you have tried and got back to me with amazing reviews.

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous)

I absolutely love my homemade tandoori marinade, using which I have created so many memorable dishes in my kitchen. This one’s special because I made it for my parents while they were visiting us for holidays.

Bring out your barbecue if you have one which is the best way to make a tandoori. And these chicken thighs smothered with the flavourful marinade make it one of the most delicious dishes I prepared last year. Paired with an unlikely side of grilled veggies and couscous.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs)

I am a big fan of Sucuk, a Middle Eastern style sausage which we often have just grilled as a snack or for breakfast. This time, I decided to make meatballs by removing the external casing which was great as Sucuk has loads of flavour and you need not add any extra spices or aromatics. Paired with a simple carbonara, this is a pasta dish that comes together in under 30 minutes. Needless to say, it’s a favourite!

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Duck Kurma

Another favourite this year was this Chettinad style Duck Kurma. This is the first time I prepared a duck dish on my own and I was so ecstatic that it turned out really delicious. Also a part of the ‘Great Australian Curry Campaign’ which makes this dish all the more special.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

  1. Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble)

Deliciously wicked silky and smooth Chocolate Mousse laced with spiced rum and then topped generously with buttercrunch toffee crumble. And maybe some strawberries too…..

Do I need to say more as to why this was a hot favourite on the blog?

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers

Christmas is just around the corner and most of us are still scrambling around to find the perfect gifts for our friends and loved ones.

My foray into the food blogging world got me hooked onto the idea of edible gifts and hampers for special occasions and Melbourne has so many amazing brands where you can get be-spoke and customized hampers for all occasions and budgets.

And one such amazing brand is ‘The Sweet Poppy

The brainchild of Chetana Suvarna Ganatra, a qualified Chef and Pâtissier, The Sweet Poppy is a home based business that focuses on high quality, consistent and great tasting food, baked goods and hampers.

‘Our philosophy is to provide our clients a bowl of local produce dusted with professionalism, along with a pinch of creativity blended with our passion and drizzled with love’.

Chetana’s foray into the food world was no accident. Growing up and married into a family of foodies, her passion for food soon led her to pursue it as a full time career. After arming herself with certificate courses in commercial cooking and patisserie from Holmesglen, she along with her family launched ‘The Sweet Poppy’.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience one of her be-spoke gourmet hampers, The Great Gatsby. A special release for the festive season, this is truly an indulgent and luxurious edible gift hamper.

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

The hamper came beautifully packaged in a gold toned box, elegant yet festive. After all, first impressions are really important when it comes to gift hampers.

This exclusive, deluxe hamper has the finest, handmade sweet treats along with other special goodies that are perfect for the festive season. It contains;

  1. The flamboyant Chandon Brut 750 ml
  2. Scented Soy Candle in a glass jar
  3. Rich Fruit Cake/Mud Cake 750 gm
  4. Melt in the mouth Rosewater infused Coconut Bites 150 gm
  5. Sugar-free Mejdool Date & Nut Roll 150 gm
  6. A very buttery Lemon infused Almond Cookie 6 pieces
  7. Chai Masala 50 gm
  8. BBQ (Tandoori) Spice-rub 75 gm

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

Let me begin with the Rich Fruit Cake…..because it was easily one of the most delicious fruit cakes I have had in a long time. Most of you would know by now that I am not a big fan of sweet treats, often preferring the savoury flavors. But this fruit cake would be an exception, because the flavours were perfectly balanced. It was not too sweet, moist, rich yet delicate and a big splash of St.Helena Brandy/Old Monk Rum soaked nuts and dry fruits make it an absolutely spectacular Christmas treat.

A glass of the Chandon Brut and a slice of the fruit cake – all that you need to make the festive season extra special!

If not the hamper, the rich fruit cake on its own would make an excellent gift or a delicious treat for your home or office party.

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

The rosewater infused coconut bites were melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness. Again the subtle flavours made these an excellent sweet treat to share or simply enjoy yourself. My son’s favourite was the sugar-free Mejdool date and nut roll; a treat he insisted should be a part of his school snack.

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

The lemon infused almond cookies were also a great hit at home. Buttery and delicious, the hint of lemon added an extra zing of freshness that is particularly enjoyable on hot days.

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

I am a huge fan of homemade spice mixes, which all of you know by now. And I was delighted that the hamper had two favourites of mine – Chai Masala and the Bbq spice rub. While I haven’t tried out the chai masala yet, I did use the bbq spice rub to marinate and grill some chicken thighs. Freshly pounded spice blends are always more flavourful than store bought ones and this one didn’t disappoint either.

The Sweet Poppy: Be-spoke Bakery, Catering and Gourmet Hampers - thespiceadventuress.com

The Great Gatsby is definitely one of the most indulgent edible gift hampers I have experienced and it felt extra special because most of the products were small batch, homemade ones which speaks volumes about its quality.

The Sweet Poppy also offers two other preset hampers, The Classic and Bombay Velvet. But you can create your own customized hampers according to the occasion and budget in consultation with the brand.

Apart from gift hampers, The Sweet Poppy is also a one-stop destination for all your party food including baked treats like customized cakes, cupcakes etc… and also catering for all events, big or small.

To find out more about the products and services, visit The Sweet Poppy.

 

Disclaimer – This post has been brought to you in collaboration with The Sweet Poppy, but all the opinions and musings are entirely mine.

 

 

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji

‘Introducing EatClub, a world-first platform that wants to help you eat out, more often (at Melbourne’s top restaurants no less!)’.

Now that tagline is definitely something that would make us foodies sit up and take notice.

Launched in September, EatClub is a first-of-its-kind mobile platform founded by Pan Koutlakis (CEO, and ex Melbourne CEO of Foodora), Matt Cantelo (co-founder of a huge travel business called CTM), Ben Tyler and last but not the least, the culinary powerhouse Marco Pierre White.

We have dozens of restaurant and food delivery apps in the market today but EatClub offers something really unique to customers and restaurants alike.

And this interesting concept was the reason I decided to collaborate with EatClub and check it out for myself. Of course I get to dine out is an added bonus.

Speaking to Ben, he said that the idea for EatClub came about when the founders were looking at building a platform to help restaurants fill empty tables, but it gained momentum after collating feedback from countless restaurateurs. It was discovered that the best method of assisting them was to offer them a platform where they could instantly attract customers at different times of day and under their own terms.

To quote, ‘EatClub incentivises restaurants to offer deals to customers for dining at off-peak or slower times during the day. With EatClub, restaurants with spare tables can push out live deals from their smartphone in only two seconds. Customers can then redeem those deals, in real-time, and eat out at a substantial discount. All deals are off the whole bill (including drinks)’.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

Marco was approached during the concept stage and he jumped on board instantly, seeing how valuable the app can be for restaurateurs. And his wealth of knowledge in the field was extremely important in the design of the app as he knew exactly the features that a restaurant would desire to have.

And for the customers, it’s even better news as they can find deals at some of the best restaurants in town. Definitely a great one for the pocket, especially if you love to dine out and don’t need to wait and save up to eat at your favorite place. I did check out the list of restaurants in Melbourne (230+) and have to agree that the list was pretty impressive and had some of my favourite spots.

The app can be downloaded free, compatible with both Apple and Android phones and pretty simple to use. You can either scroll through the entire list of restaurants offering the discounts or you can choose the location filter to narrow down the results. The discount % or offer is mentioned right next to the restaurant which can then be redeemed and used within the specified time.

And for a limited time (until January 30, 2018), EatClub is offering all my readers an extra 5% in addition to the discount offered by the restaurant. So if a restaurant is offering 30% discount, then using the promo code ‘SPICE’ will fetch you another 5% discount and that’s a grand total of 35%. Isn’t that great, especially during the party season?

So all that you need to do (outlined in the infograph below) is book your restaurant deal and then add the promo code ‘SPICE’. Show this when you arrive at the restaurant to claim the full discount off your total bill.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned, there are so many amazing restaurants to choose from. And to test out the app, I decided to pay a visit to Babu Ji (St Kilda) – one of my top favourites when it comes to Indian restaurants in Melbourne.

I have visited Babu Ji plenty of times but the exciting thing is that their menu is changed seasonally so there’s always something new to try out.

We also like to choose the banquet as it is the best way to enjoy most of the starters on the menu. And it is the starters at Babu Ji that makes the restaurant so interesting for me. The contemporary twist on many Indian classics is quite admirable and very inspiring for me as a food blogger.

Now I will not get into a complete review of each dish but I will pick out a couple of the highlight experiences.

The Pani Puri vodka shots are highly recommended to start off the meal with. I am absolutely crazy about pani puri; it’s my all time favourite from Indian street snacks. These were so delicious and those vodka shots add a bit more zing and flavour. Highly recommended.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

Another highlight from the appetizer menu was the Peshawari Prawns – Tandoor cooked prawns marinated with coconut and curry leaf, served on Peshawari Naans. OMG….the flavours were simply amazing, tiny morsels of deliciousness. Another must try from the menu.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

The other speciality at Babu Ji that I have always enjoyed is the Tulsi Fish Tikka – Atlantic salmon, marinated with basil, kefir lime and tangy spices and cooked in a clay oven. The fish is juicy, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of spices to lift the flavour to another level.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options too and one of our favourites from the evening was the Paneer Tokri – Potato nest filled with spiced cottage cheese, crisp celery and poached apple. A fine example of a classic Indian dish with a contemporary edge.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

From the mains, my absolute favourite was the Macher Jhol – Bengali style Blue Grenadier fish cooked in mustard oil with turmeric. The Babu Ji version is much creamier and richer than the traditional one but I enjoyed the flavours with both the rice and naans alike.

And from the vegetarian curries, my favourite was the Adraki Palak Paneer- Homemade cheese dipped in spinach curry infused with dried ginger. I am usually not a big fan of Palak Paneer but I totally loved their version. The spinach base was lush and creamy without being overpowering and that dried ginger really helped lift the flavours.

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If you haven’t dined at Babu Ji before, then do check out their daily deals for a delicious yet affordable dinner experience. And make sure you use the promo code ‘SPICE’ for that extra 5% discount.

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post bought to you in collaboration with EatClub; all the opinions and thoughts are entirely mine.

November Favourites (and a Spice Tailor Street Food Kit Giveaway)

What a fabulous month it has been!

It’s been crazy hectic as my parents were leaving back to India which meant a lot of travelling amidst other things. And that’s why you have not seen me here for quite a while now.

Since I have not been working much the whole of last month, everything has piled up on the work front, so pardon me if I am going to bombard your inbox with posts on most days. There are lots of recipes, brand collaborations, product reviews etc…. in the pipeline and I assure that you guys are going to enjoy it all.

Let’s start this month’s favourites with a giveaway (which I know is exciting for all of you!)

Spice Tailor recently launched their Street Food Kits, which are a take on the famous kathi rolls that are a street food delight across the length and breadth of India.

The kathi rolls (originally invented in Kolkata/Calcutta) became an instant hit across the country as it was delicious and so easy to customize it for each one’s liking. Basically, it’s like a wrap that is filled with all sorts of deliciousness and can be either vegetarian or non vegetarian.

The Spice Tailor kits come in three different flavours – Tangy Punjabi, Classic Tandoori and Spicy Chettinad. I tried out the Tangy Punjabi and Spicy Chettinad…..and it was difficult to pick out a favourite. Each kit comes with six whole meal wraps, a stir fry sauce or marinade to cook the protein, chutney and a spice blend.

For the vegetarian version, I used paneer (Indian cottage cheese) with the Tangy Punjabi kit and for the nonvegetarian version, I used chicken with the Spicy Chettinad kit. Super easy to make and on the table in 15 minutes, these kits were a lifesaver while we were travelling. The flavours were distinctly Indian which was great when travelling with parents who are not too experimentative with all cuisines. And kits like these are way cheaper when travelling as it greatly reduces the need to eat out at restaurants.

Spice Tailor Street Food Kit - thespiceadventuress.com

(A little disclaimer though….. I do not endorse any sort of meal kits as an alternative to everyday home cooking using fresh, in season produce. These are meant to be a help during those crazy busy days, when your health is not the best or while you are travelling).

Now, let’s get onto the giveaway part! I know we are all super busy this season so this giveaway is the perfect one for you during the holiday/travelling season. The Spice Tailor has kindly agreed to give away 14 meal kits to 2 lucky subscribers (i.e. 7 kits each per winner). Isn’t that really generous?

To enter the giveaway;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id.
  2. Comment below what protein/vegetable will you use for this meal kit

Competition open only to Australia residents (It’s Christmas guys, so if you live overseas, you can enter it on behalf of any of your friends/family living in Australia).

The last day for entry is 8th December, 2017 and the winners will be notified through my social media channels and private message on 9th December, 2017. So make sure you are following my social media handles if you aren’t already.

Getting on to the other favourites from last month:

Gratitude! That’s my word for this month of joy, sharing and thanksgiving.

People who are always late are more successful! Now I have the perfect excuse too….

Lusting after this bar cart from Pottery Barn.

I am obsessed over DIY table settings for any kind of party. Do check out my Pinterest page for loads of inspiration.

My favourite store to shop for Christmas decorations.

The Negroni has become so popular during the summer months, so it’s time we had an Aussie version.

I thought I had tried out all sorts of hummus recipes by now. Apparently I was wrong.

These potato skin egg boats would be perfect for entertaining.

Isn’t this the most gorgeous nachos in town?

Shireen’s Mangalorean plated series are back, and it’s as delicious as ever.

Edible gifts for Christmas are a great idea. How about these delicious simple syrups?

Totally digging this Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake for easy entertaining.

A ‘white’ hot chocolate! Isn’t this gorgeous?

 

October Favourites

October literally flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Since my parents are visiting me, the days go by super busy with a lot of travel that we do on weekends. There’s no particular routine at home and it all seems like an extended vacation to me.

Yarra Valley was one of our travel destinations in October. And unlike most visitors, we checked out the Yarra Valley Orchid Show instead of visiting the usual spots. My parents are such avid gardeners, especially fond of growing ornamental orchids at home. So this was something they were totally looking forward to, especially to pick up some gardening tips from the experts.

If you love orchids, then do check out the Orchid Societies of Victoria. The society has lots of registered clubs across Victoria and holds a lot of shows around the year. So it’s a small but great show to visit if you love orchids or want to learn more about growing these beauties.

Yarra Valley Orchid Show - thespiceadventuress.com

We also went fishing at the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. The farm specializes in Rainbow trout, Golden trout and Atlantic Salmon. It’s a great spot for a one day family picnic which includes the fishing experience, bbq pits, children’s playground, mini golf course etc…

I have been here before and you can read all about that experience here. We also caught all the different varieties of fish and I used the golden trout to recreate last year’s recipe again at the farm. Delicious and perfectly grilled, do try it out if you haven’t before.

Australian Rainbow Trout Farm - thespiceadventuress.com

I was quite surprised to see how popular Halloween has become in Australia. Personally, I do not celebrate it and quite frankly find it a bit weird. But given the nature of my work, I did create DIY Halloween themed pizzas for Stuff Mums Like. It was fun doing the project because I have finally nailed making pizza bases from scratch.

So do check out the post if you would like to attempt making pizzas at home, So much fun and way better for your health.

Halloween DIY pizzas - thespiceadventuress.com

Last week, I attended the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch at Encore St Kilda. A fantastic event with lots of brands to interact and meet up with. I have decided to collaborate with a few that I personally use and enjoy, so do watch out this space for more information.

One of the highlights of the event this year was the partnership with Ryobi. Barry Du Bois, star of The Living Room and Kerryn Carter, founder of Tool School were among the VIP guests for the day sharing their inspiring story which has highly motivating and moved many of us to tears.

Another highlight was the DIY workshop set up by Ryobi for all the attendees, where each one of us could make our own food/cheese/presentation board. We were taught how to use Ryobi power tools for sanding, drilling, driving etc…. to create our own board. I must agree that it did give me lots of confidence and I am seriously thinking of executing some DIY projects over the summer hols.

Ryobi power tools DIY workshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Have you started planning for your holiday parties?

I have. And even before the menu planning, I have the tablescape sorted this year with this stunning stoneware and pottery range from Salt & Pepper. I picked up pieces from the ‘Artefact’ and ‘Relic’ collection; both have a rustic yet contemporary feel which I totally love. And the duck egg blue and slate colour tones would go perfectly with the white Christmas theme I have in mind.

Salt and Pepper stoneware range - thespiceadventuress.com

And now other news from around the globe…

My love for travelling kicked in well and truly only after I had a baby; and I thoroughly enjoyed travelling the world with him. If you think travelling is difficult with a baby, then here is the expert talking.

Well, this has what Instagram has truly become!

Margatini, now that’s interesting.

A spicy old fashioned!

This shakshuka sounds more interesting than the original version.

Chicken chickpea curry; that’s a new combination for me.

I am not a huge avo lover but this coconut avocado lime soft serve seems perfect for summer.

This chai masala bundt cake looks simply awesome.

Dark chocolate tahini cups! Now that’s an equally delicious use for tahini as hummus.

 

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