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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Who Needs A Little Amazin' Graze?

Amazing Grace is one of the most recognisable and popular Christian hymns sung around the world.  The melody and words will get to you each time you hear or sing it...like it did recently when I watched the acapella performance by Garth Brooks during Joe Biden's inauguration....it was such a moving and emotional rendition...and beautifully sung too.  But I'm here to offer you a different kind of Amazin' Graze! :D

The kind that you can eat.....lol! ;D  Well, I thought the gift of Amazin' Graze would simply make amazing ideal presents (for intended recipients to snack healthily and with no guilt during Christmas).  So, here's a look at some of the stuff I bought.

Originally, I wanted to get the Merry Gift Box solely because I thought the packaging was perfect as a Christmas gift but was discouraged by the non-favourable reviews of the taste of one of the items in the box...the Cherry Peppermint Brownie Chips.  So I decided to order the Granola Bites Variety Box (RM39.90, 320g) instead.

The Granola Bites Variety Box comes with a jolly combination of 8 fun-sized packs of granola bites (40g each) in 4 flavours.

2 x Blueberry Coconut Granola Bites 
- toasty coconut with sweet blueberries

2 x Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bites
- rich dark cocoa & juicy cherries

2 x Banana Bread Granola Bites
- banana puree & dried bananas

2 x Coconut Kaya Granola Bites 
- tropical coconut, pandan & kaya jam

Other ingredients in the granola bites include different types of nut, rolled oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, dried cranberries, dried cherries black raisins, goji berries and shredded coconut.

The other box was the Nut Mix Variety Box (RM39.90, 240g) comprising of 8 fun-sized packs of crunchy nuts in 4 flavours.

2 x Coconut Curry Lime Nut Mix 
- fragrant coconut, lime-infused with real curry leaves

2 x Sweet Chilli Nut Mix 
- coated in chilli & tomato paste with fresh spring onions & ginger

2 x Pandan Coconut Nut Mix
 - glazed with fragrant coconut shreds & aromatic pandan leaves

2 x Zesty Maple Nut Mix
- flavoured with natural orange zests

I was really impressed with the good quality and classy packaging that was also very sweetly coloured at the same time.

You get a combination of pecans, peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds with sweet, spicy and savoury flavours.

Since both the boxes of granola bites and nut mix contained two packs each of 4 flavours, I decided to cheat a little and swapped the packs around so that each box contained one pack of 8 flavours instead.  That way my recipient can get to taste 8 different types of snacks...hee..hee!  Great idea, right? ;)

I also bought the Chocolate-Coated Almonds & Strawberries (RM17.90).  These are crunchy almonds and tangy freeze-dried strawberries decadently covered in dark chocolate.  Sounds yummy? ^.^

I also got these Dark Chocolate Brownie Chips (RM14.90).  These are thin and crispy layers of chocolatey goodness sprinkled with almond flakes, chia seeds and coconut shreds for that satisfying crunch.

I have to say these make excellent gifts, especially to recipients who practise a healthy lifestyle, since they're oat based, healthy, vegan-friendly snacks where the ingredients are considered superfoods that promote health and well-being.  They offer delicious goodness at the same time to satisfy one's cravings on snacking minus the guilt.  I'm sure we can all do with a bit of that.

Since I did not taste any of the granola bites or nut mix (nor got any feedback from the recipients of the gifts...*wink wink*), I'm not able to give you my opinion on them.  I can only hope and assume they tasted alright like their tagline which says "discover joy in every bite". ^o^

In a year where lives were impacted by the global pandemic, this year's X'mas gifts also took on a concept of health and safety in mind.  With that said, I decided to include these colourful masks which I found online recently.  There are a lot of coloured masks in the market now but these pastel colours are the sweetest I've seen compared to the rest.  You get two each of blue, yellow, pink, purple and green (to match your outfits...hehe!) in a pack of ten and each box (RM35) comes with 5 individual resealable packs (that's also convenient to keep).

My pressies are packed (in recycled paper bags, just added a touch of glitter!) and ready for the intended recipients at our Christmas family gathering which I blogged about here.

Hey, I got one back too.....filled with chocolate chip oat cookies, almond biscotti and cranberry cookies from Chocolat World.  I liked the cranberry cookies, buttery with a light tang, but the chocolate chip cookies were a bit too crunchy while the almond biscotti was rather bland.

I bought all these from Amazin' Graze's online shop at Shopee (that way I can make use of some of my Shopee coins) but you can also order direct from their own shop at amazingraze.com.  Who needs a little Amazing Grace.....or Amazin' Graze at this time? ^_~

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

4Fingers Crispy Chicken via Delivery

I first noticed 4Fingers Crispy Chicken when we were out shopping at Sunway Velocity way before the pandemic struck.  I didn't give it another thought then as I reckoned that it was just another local fast food chicken chain.  I wasn't aware at that time that it was KFC....and by that I don't mean the Kentucky kind but the Korean kind! :P

So, when we were browsing for what to eat on GrabFood as it was one of those food delivery days again, we decided on 4Fingers now that I know it's Korean fried chicken (after all, I do like KFC).  With over 15 outlets in Klang Valley, our delivery came from the branch nearest me which was Sunway Velocity.

For my first taste of 4Fingers Chicken, I went with the 1 Drumstick & 3 Wings Combo @ RM24.90 comprising of 1 drumstick, 2 wingettes & 1 drumette with a choice of one free side and a drink.

4Fingers Chicken
comes in two flavours, soy garlic and hot (aka spicy) and the good thing is you can ask for mixed flavours which allows you to taste/eat both flavours in one sitting.

I chose soy garlic for the drumstick and mixed flavours for the wings, so I actually ended up with two pieces of soy garlic and two pieces spicy flavour.  The soy garlic is fragrant, savoury, lightly garlicky and sweet while the hot flavour is rather spicy.

You get a choice of one side and the options include kimchi, seaweed or plain fries, plain or teriyaki sauced Japanese rice.  I chose plain fries which came with a sprinkling of some sort of chilli powder.  The skinny fries weren't among the best tasting fries around + they were kinda limp as well when they reached me.  Drink choices include soft drinks, iced lemon tea or bottled water.

The Tofu Rice Box Combo @ RM20.90 was a combo with 2 pieces of crispy tofu served with pretty much the exact same thing as the above combo with teriyaki sauce drizzled Japanese rice, shredded seaweed, kimslaw and drink.

For the tofu, you can only have it with one choice of sauce, either soy garlic or hot.  Selecting the hot flavour was a good choice as the bland tofu needed the spiciness to give it more flavour and amp up its taste.  The inside of the tofu was soft with a nice crisp on the outer layer.  I don't mind this at all, especially on days when I feel like having a lighter no meat meal.

The kimslaw was a total surprise as the combination of kimchi and coleslaw turned out to be nothing like the usual pungent kimchi flavour that I dislike.  This one tasted more like a lightly spicy mayo coleslaw than kimchi (ah, a kimchi I can finally eat...kekeke!).

With the plain (and skinny) fries not making an impression and seeing that I enjoyed the kimslaw, I made sure I got that with the Wings Rice Box Combo @ RM21.90 when we decided to order 4Fingers again.

The rice box contains their signature wings (2 drumettes & 1 wingette) in soy garlic served with Japanese rice drizzled with teriyaki sauce, shredded seaweed and kimslaw.  My only complaint is that the rice is a little mushy and they could be a bit more generous with the teriyaki sauce.  The combo also comes with a free drink.

If you need more chicken, there's always the option to add on more in a flavour of your choice (this one was hot).   Between the two flavours, I prefer soy garlic a tad more just because of the fragrance of the soy and the sweet/savoury infusion + having something too spicy takes away from the flavour of the chicken.

If you order one Wings Rice Box and a Tofu Rice Box, you can share the chicken wings and tofu for more variety in your box.  The portions (I think) are good enough for medium-sized stomachs or ladies (in general). One rice box is nicely adequate for me without any sides.

These were combo add-ons (I can't remember the prices) of boneless chicken bites (for days when you don't feel like messing with bones, I guess) in soy garlic......

......and hot & spicy flavour.

These boneless chicken bites even come with fries and a drizzle of cheese sauce (not for me obviously) together with some crispy bits of batter.  There's also a choice of seafood (calamari & shrimp) if you're not into chicken.

My Personal Opinion

This was just a simple fried chicken restaurant chain where I went in without much expectation but came out pleasantly surprised that I would enjoy the meal as much.  Perhaps it's because I do like Korean fried chicken to begin with more than any other fried chicken chain.

I think it was the combo of chicken (or tofu) in both flavours with teriyaki rice and kimslaw that worked in its favour which is a common and complete meal of protein, rice and vegetables.

Recently when we found ourselves in Sunway Velocity (pre-MCO obviously), we actually went in to tapau their food before heading home....that's how much we liked it.  I'm foreseeing that there'll be more 4Fingers deliveries in the future! ^_~

4Fingers Crispy Chicken
1-23 1st Floor Sunway Velocity Mall
Lingkaran Sunway Velocity
Jalan Cheras
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9286 6862

Thursday, 14 January 2021

#ewew cooks Stir-Fried Brinjal with Sambal.....the Easy & Healthy Way

Mamma mia.....here we go again (and by that, I don't mean the movie!) with yet another MCO....MCO 2.0! >_<  Looks like we have to play masak-masak one more time...lol!  At least this time, everything appears calmer with no insane queues in supermarkets, mini markets or wet markets and no shortage of foodstuff (of my regular brands) as there are no less hoarders this time round.

So, perhaps it's an opportune time for me to share with you what I think it's the best way to cook brinjal.....that's not only the easiest....but also the healthiest.  Is this vegetable, which you can call by many names, brinjal, terung, eggplant or aubergine, among one of your favourite vegetables?  If it is, then you'd want to read on coz I'm sure everyone knows how to stir-fry brinjal...but not everyone knows the way to do it with the littlest of oil. ^_~

Before I stumbled onto this method of cooking brinjals, I used to slice them thinly and pan-fry them in as little oil as possible to get them to soften.  But the trouble is, it absorbs the oil you put in very quickly (even when I use a non-stick pan) and you end up adding more oil coz the pieces that don't get coated in oil tend to not soften.  You have to make sure you lay them in one layer in the pan and fry them under low heat to ensure they soften thoroughly (and not burn).  This was one way.

Some would deep-fry them (and this obviously would mean using more oil...and absorbing lots of it as a result).  That was another.  Yet another way would be to add water (or sauce) to braise them until they soften.  So, your brinjal dish could potentially end up with lots of braising liquid.  Or you could also air-fry them like what phonghongbakes did.

The final way would be to salt the brinjals, let it stand for about half an hour and then squeeze out the liquid from the brinjals.  This I learned from choiyen.com as she said it would reduce the braising time (and ultimately the braising liquid) since the salt helps to soften the brinjals.

But let me share with you what I think could be the best method which I tried only recently.  I've been roasting bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes often to make salads.  I remember liking the peppers the most as they'll turn out soft and sweet after roasting.  So, one day, I had an epiphany...lol!  If I can do that with peppers, why can't I do the same with brinjals?  Of course I had never thought of roasting brinjals coz they aren't a vegetable of choice (at least not my choice) in salads.

So, I sliced two medium-sized brinjals into sticks since I'm cooking them in the oven.  I've never cut them this way before.  I'd usually slice them thinly and diagonally to ensure they can soften.  Drizzle a little oil (like 2 tbsp) over it and mix/rub the brinjal sticks with your hands to ensure the pieces get coated with some oil.

Or you can use a spray bottle (which distributes the oil better than drizzling and mixing)...like this one I bought recently.  It took me a while to find the right ones coz the spray bottles were so cheap (only RM5.90 each!) that I'd have to get at least three to be entitled for free shipping (and I actually need only one).  I finally found a seller that offered a stainless steel version (at RM9.90), so I only need to buy two...and they also sell a funnel (RM1.70) which is great for filling up purposes since the opening of the bottle is so small.

Looking at the two, it was very obvious which one was the better quality.  The stainless steel one was much heavier with a better finishing overall (look nicer as well with the measurement markings).  Even the glass of the cheaper rose gold one didn't feel like it was actual glass (it sounds different when you clink on it).

I bought two different ones so that I can differentiate between the two, the stainless steel one for olive oil (which was the only one I actually needed) and the other rose gold one for my regular corn oil (might as well use it since I had two).  The latter I can use to spray my non-stick pan for frying stuff like luncheon meat and bacon which don't actually need oil.  Sorry for the digression, let's get back to my brinjal....hehe! ;P

Sprinkle a little salt over it if you like.  Otherwise, just stick it into your oven at 190°C and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until well soften.  You can test if it's tender enough by pricking it with a fork.  The oil gives a bit of charring to the brinjals (you can omit the oil altogether if you wish...and it will still soften).

Once you're happy with the softness, the brinjals are ready to be whipped up in a dish of your choice.  I like mine cooked with my own-made blended chilli paste (use more if you enjoy it spicier).  Just make sure you stir-fry the chilli paste in some oil slowly on low heat until fragrant.

While I'm frying the chilli paste on one side, I'm also frying the minced pork on the other (if you have a pan big enough).  This is what we call multitasking....huhu.  Once the chilli paste is fragrant and the minced pork cooked, combine the two together and season with salt.

Add in the roasted...and soft brinjal slices.  At this point, you can add in a little water if you like the vegetables a litter wetter.  I didn't coz this was one time when I could get away with not having to braise the brinjals since they were already soft from roasting.

Instead, I just drizzle in a little thick, dark soy for colour and also a bit of light soy for flavour.  Check that your seasoning is right and adjust accordingly to your taste bud.

And there you have it...my stir-fried brinjals with sambal that's guaranteed to be soft while done with the least amount of oil possible.  I find this to be the easiest, healthiest, not to mention tastiest way to cook brinjals.  I don't cook it any other way now since I tried it this way.

Once you've tried this method of roasting/baking them, you'd probably never want to deep-fry or pan-fry them in oil (so much work)...or steam/boil them in liquid/sauce ever again.

This is especially ideal when the brinjals are cooked in sambal coz you'd want it dry instead of it swimming in sauce....or, worst still, in oil! >_<

This dish tastes really good and I cook this often now...sometimes even without the minced meat.  It tastes just as good on its own but must cook it with some sambal paste-lah.  Great as a food prep dish too.  Just reheat it in the toaster oven and it's as good as the day you made it.

I implore you to try this at home...and, by that, I mean cooking the brinjals this way....you can thank me later? :P  I bet yours will taste even better than mine when done with your own-made sambal belacan.  Don't say I didn't share this wonderful...and very helpful cooking tip with you! ;)

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