Sentosa and Singapore Botanical Gardens

Over the weekend the hubby and I made it to Sentosa Island. We left early Saturday morning and took the MRT to HarbourFront to catch the cable car over. We grabbed the cable car tour package that included tickets to the S.E.A Aquarium and the Merlion with unlimited cable car rides for $69SGD per person. The cable car ride was really short, but it had a spectacular view of the city and an ocean of islands nearby.

We stayed at the Silo so Beach Resort and took Bus 1 from Imbiah Point (where the cable car drops you off) to Siloso Point and the Beach Tram from there to the hotel. The public transportation system in Sentosa is free by the way! The hotel is an eco-friendly resort ad boasts its status as the first green- hotel in Sentosa. The pool was the highlight- it starts with a 50-foot waterfall and turns into a long pool where you could lazy river for a bit.

We then grabbed the tram/bus to Resort World Sentosa to go see the S.E.A Aquarium- the largest aquarium in the world! It was really crowded because it was a rainy day and it’s one of the few indoor activities on the island. The aquarium is totally worth it! There are two underwater tunnels and some of the largest aquarium tanks I have ever seen in my life. They have a few face-in-the-hole monitors through out the Silk Road exhibit which I forced Rhut to do…it was hilarious.

Then we hopped onto the bus to the Merlion, which was ok. The Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore as Singapore means Lion City. The story goes that the founder of Singapore initially saw a lion on the island when he first came here and he named the island after the lion. Then the Singaporeans merged the lion with a mermaid making it a merlion. The have statues of merlion a all over the island however; you can enter the Merlion statue in Sentosa, similar to the Statue of Liberty. You can look out of its mouth and on top of it’s head. Nothing too exciting. I would pass on this if I were you.

IMG_7376IMG_7378

By now the rain was over and we grabbed the cable car back into the Singapore and took it to Mount Faber. We walked around and were met with some beautiful views of the city and its thousands of skyscrapers at Faber Point. Rhut and I decided to head over back to our hotel and laid on the beach at night people watching. The beach at Siloso point is kind of like Miami with night clubs on the actual beach. It’s a party spot for sure. As house music filled the air, Rhut and I watched some girls who were #whitegirlwasted and relaxed on the beach. It was awesome.

View from Mount Faber

On Sunday we went back to Singapore and check out the Botanical Gardens. Singapore is known for their orchids and the garden is a World Heritage site. It was hot as hell so we decided to do this in the quickest way possible and made a bee-line for the National Orchid Garden. Here are some pics from the garden:

 

Shopping Malls and Kueh Tutus

I’ve been hanging out in the wonderful country of Singapore for a week now. So far so good. My wonderful husband thought staying in almost every hotel in Singapore would be a great idea, so I’ve been hopping around from hotel to hotel every other day. It’s awesome because it’s easier to explore new areas but, it sucks because I have to pack up and carry my stuff around the city quite often. The first hotel we stayed at was the Parc Sovereign Hotel- which was meh… It was loud, really tiny and wet. Yes, wet. The floor, walls, and bed all were in a state of dampness due to the humidity. Also there were little kids screaming down the hallway at 5:30AM! Jetlagged Hetal was getting cranky. We were supposed to stay there 2 days and instead cut it short and moved onto our next hotel, the ParkRoyal on Pickering. This was by the far the BEST hotel we stayed at, so much so that we ended up extending our stay here. The hotel is covered in greenery and has an amazing infinity pool on the 5th floor overlooking the city. The room was pretty big and really pretty. They provide you with a hot water heater and a French press to make coffee! How very SF! Normal coffee makers are too mainstream for Singapore.

The MRT (Singaporean Subway system) is half a block away from the hotel making it super convenient to get around. On my first day there I took the MRT to Orchard Road. The subway system here is really easy to navigate and very cheap ($1.30-$1.50 for most rides). I mentioned in my earlier post how I wasn’t really impressed with Orchard Road since it was all high end shopping stores that I could find in the USA. What I’ve learned while being here for a week is that Singaporeans love 2 things; food and shopping. I have now been to over 10 HUGE malls that put my beloved Garden State Plaza, my teenage hangout spot in Jersey, to shame. Every mall also has massive food courts that serve all types of food. However, a lot of the ethnic food restaurants aren’t vegetarian friendly, so my husband and I have been resorting to a lot of American and Indian food which kind of sucks because I reall wanted to try other cuisines. We were lucky enough to try Kueh Tutu, which is a Chinese steamed rice cake filled peanuts or coconut. They weren’t too sweet and the coconut filled cake quickly became my favorite after I shoved 3 of them in my mouth almost all at once.

The Asian Civilization Museum is a 5 minute walk away from the hotel and totally worth visiting. I joined the 11am guided tour and learned a lot about Singapore and all the religions/people who live here. The walk over to the museum is along the Singapore River and there are many colorful buildings along the way.

 

That night my husband joined me and we went to Clarke Quay and walked around. Clarke Quay is full of nightclubs and fancy restaurants. We sat on the bridge for a bit and people watched and walked back to our hotel to relax.

Whole Wheat Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirls

whole wheat Peanut butter brownies

I officially landed in Singapore safe and sound last night. I spent the day walking around Orchard Road, where you can find just about any brand ever name-dropped in a rap song. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Fendi, Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Chanel…the list goes on. We are staying at the ParkRoyal Hotel on Pickering Road and it’s like a jungle paradise with vines and folliage sorrounding the building. It’s super close to Charles Quay and the MRT (subway) system. It’s basically like a mini America in Asia– I’m hoping to see more of the culture tonight. I’ll be checking out Charles Quay and Little India with the hubby later today.

Anywho, I wanted to share another quick recipe with you guys that I made a few weeks ago. It’s a whole wheat brownie recipe, so its healthy automatically …right? You honestly can’t even tell that it’s made with a different type of flour. It’s a dense, cake-like brownie and the crunch from the peanut butter chips make it even better. Give it a shot!

Cook time: 40 min                                                                                         Makes: one 9×13 pan

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tbsp vanilla
4 eggs
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until all the sugar has dissolved into the butter and let this cool for ~5 minutes.  Make sure your butter mixture is cooled so it won’t cook your eggs in the next step.

3. Add the eggs one by one to the butter mixture and whisk in between. Add the vanilla extract and mix until you have a smooth batter.

4. In a separate bowl, add the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and flour and whisk until incorporated.

5. Add the flour mix to the batter and combine until you get a nice thick batter. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Give this a few taps to get the air bubbles out.

6. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt the peanut butter chips by microwaving them in 15 second increments, stirring in between. Now pour the melted peanut butter chips into a small sandwich bag and cut off a corner to make a pea size hole. Squeeze the melted peanut butter chips in straight lines across the top of the brownies batter. Take a knife and run it thru the batter perpendicular to the peanut butter lines. This will pull the melted peanut butter into a pretty marbleized design. Draw as many lines as you like with your knife for a pretty design!

7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpicks comes out clean from the center. Let this cool and enjoy with your favorite ice cream or just on their own!

whole wheat peanut butter brownies

 

Introductions and Updates

So I guess I’ve never actually put much about my personal life on this blog. Usually I just blog about things that interest me at the moment. Last week, I went to a blogger conference and one of the blogger panel members made a good point about letting your personality show through your writing. So to start off, I’m a 27 year old Jersey girl with a mouth like a sailor, a soft heart for all things cuddly and love for anything covered in chocolate. Even though I’ve had this blog for almost 3 years now I feel like I’m just NOW introducing myself.

With that said—let’s move onto what’s going on in my life.

I am a severe A-type personality. I color code the crap out of everything. I even plan spontaneity into my schedule. Yes…it’s THAT bad. Last week I quit my job as a healthcare consultant to travel with my husband. He has been in Singapore for work for a month and I will be flying out tomorrow to join him there. This was all decided 3 weeks ago so things have been moving pretty quickly. We have a travel-packed summer/fall. Therefore, I have dubbed this year – Wanderlust 2014. Here are the places we’ll be going to:

travel map

I’m excited and super nervous at the same time. I have tons of questions going through my head. What if I can’t get a job when I get back? What do I need to do when I get back? Will quitting my job to travel hurt my career? But for now I need to learn to just enjoy the moment and let things go. Vacation planning for me consist of huge dossiers that I put together with everything you would ever need for a trip. I have literally have nothing for this trip. I have a list of cool places to visit and that’s about it. Hopefully I can learn to just do things on the fly and enjoy myself. I’ll be blogging while I travel so I shall keep you guys updated. :-)

If you guys know of any cool things I should do or cool places I should visit while I travel please let me know!

Banana Oat & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Oat Muffin

I must be on a straight up banana kick because I have been craving all things banana nonstop. Luckily my co-worker is just as obsessed. He literally has at least one banana a day for breakfast. Since last Friday was his last day on my project I figured I would send him off with some banana oat muffins. I found this recipe on The Gunny Sack and gave it a shot with some minor changes to suit my taste. I made two batches of the muffins, one with chocolate chips and another with Reese’s peanut butter chips. I preferred the peanut butter ones, but the chocolate ones were equally as delicious. Try this one bowl recipe next time you have a case of mushy bananas and enjoy!

Cook time: 30 min                                                              Makes: 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup of either chocolate chips OR peanut butter chips
1 cup mashed bananas (2 bananas)
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Banana Oat Muffin

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 F

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and your chocolate/peanut butter chips.

3. Then add the mashed bananas, egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture and mix together until well combined.

4. Line your muffin sheet with paper cups or grease it. Fill up each cup with the batter 2/3 of the way full.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!

Banana Oat Muffin

Craftsy Course Giveaway!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. In addition the following giveaway is sponsored by Craftsy. Free Craftsy CourseCraftsy is a website that offers a series of online video classes for various crafts/hobbies. From cake decorating techniques to knitting – Craftsy has classes for everything. You can learn how to take awesome pictures or draw pretty flowers from some of the world’s best instructors through online videos. I took their Free Knife Skill course to see if I would like the format and I ended up taking 4 other classes afterwards! You can also interact with fellow classmates and share tips and tricks with each other. Right now I’m taking their Italian Pasta Making course and I feel like I’ll be expert once I finish the class.

The wonderful people at Craftsy  are sponsoring an awesome course giveaway especially on my blog! Click HERE to enter the giveaway where one luck winner will win a free Craftsy course of their choice (up to a $59.99 value)! Giveaway ends March 31st

P.S The giveaway is open to new and current members :-)

Cheddar and Chive Cornbread

Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Since I married a good ol’ southern boy, I figured I should brush up on my southern cooking skills. Now I love plain old cornbread, but the chives and cheddar cheese make this recipe even THAT much better. #cornbreadSWAG This recipe requires buttermilk, but if you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can take 1 cup of milk and mix it with 1 tbsp of either vinegar or lemon juice. Let that site for 5-10 minutes and voila, you have some fresh buttermilk! This bread turns out really moist and flavorful. Pair it with a nice warm chili or have it all by itself. Enjoy!

Cook time: 1 hour                                                                 Serves: 24 thick slices – two 9×5 loaves

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup chives, chopped

1. Pre-heat the oven 375 degrees

2. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar with the melted butter until the sugar dissolves. Then beat in the eggs and whisk in the buttermilk.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt.

4. Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and whisk together until combined. Mix in the 2/3 cup of the cheddar and 2/3 of the chives.

5. Pour the batter into two 9×5 greased bread pans. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and chives on top of the loaves and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! :-)