Friday, 31 October 2014

Mia's Review: Criollo Cocoa Cafe

photo credits to Criollo Cocoa Cafe

Just last week, YS came back from Melbourne for a short, short, reaaalllly short visit over the weekend and I decided to bring her to Criollo Cocoa Cafe after coming across their cute latte art on their hot cocoa drinks! Was great that R also managed to make it back from Adelaide (what's up with my friends with Australia, huh?) from his holidays and could join us for a short meet up with loads of crappy talks over dinner. :)

The cafe was pretty empty on a Monday night, and we chose the corner most table. 

And just nice, right beside the coffee machine, so we get a whiff of the coffee fragrance whenever an order was being made. 

Dark Hot Cocoa - $4.80

And I got a cute teddy bear for my latte art. I've seen some cute pictures of 3D latte art on their facebook, but we didn't get any that night. :( 
I wonder if it depends on which barista is on duty or maybe we will need to specially request for 3D latte art or what. 
But the drink itself was so yummy! It was pretty rich, yet not overly sweet for the dark chocolate added a nice bitterness to the sweet richness. 

YS's Strawberry Hot Cocoa - $4.80

I got to try a sip and it tasted just like strawberry milk, but in hot cocoa shade of brown! A pretty interesting one, with a cute bunny latte art too!

Big Breakfast - $19.90

Was tempted to go for their chocolate waffle, but in the end decided to go for the big breakfast instead.... and I'm pretty glad I did! :)
It was a pity I had to eat so much just after having 3 large fillings done just days earlier at Tooth Angels (both sides has had tooth filled so there's no 'safe side' to chew on) and they obviously still hurt quite a bit when I bite on hard, chewy food. But well, I got through the meal without much discomfort other than having to chew through the crispy bacon and toasts. It's really a shame though, they have the crispiest toast I've ever eaten on an all day breakfast meal. Absolutely loved everything on the plate, but would have preferred my scrambled eggs to be less runny though.

Fish and Chips - $16.80

Both R and YS chose the same mains. Didn't try any because I really didn't want to add on any unnecessary pressure on my sore teeth, but they really did look yummy!

Criollo Cocoa Cafe is located at Orchard Gateway #02-01
For more information, visit their FB page HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mia's Review: My Beauty Empties

Recently during my blog-hopping times, I've came across a number of these 'monthly empties' posts, which are something like a 'monthly favourites' tag made popular by beauty vloggers on youtube. And I thought to myself, why not do a simple and short review on all my empties instead of just showing readers what I've emptied out for the month? :) 

First up, my shampoo and conditioner!
 -picture credits to watsons-

Yes, that's Watsons' house brand, their Naturals by Watsons Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. I've actually gotten the entire set of  this range, including their hair mask and leave-in serum. 
Price range: Affordable 
Might come across as pricey for being a watsons' house brand but comparing to other argan oil products, this is significantly cheaper. 
Efficacy: Excellent! 
It got my DIY hair dye damaged hair smooth and soft again! Magic or what!
Will I repurchase: Yes, definitely! 
But as I have the habit of alternating my hair care products, I will only repurchase this after I'm done with a replacement.
My current replacement: Essential Deep Cleansing Care

Next up, for my make up remover! 
Orbis Cleansing Liquid Oil Cut

Price range: Affordable
Departmental store skincare/cosmetic range at drugstore pricing, need I say more?
Efficacy: Excellent! 
For my usual make up routine of bb/cc cream or liquid foundation with concealer, setting powder, and occasional mascara and blusher, I only need about 1 to 1.5 pump in the shower (wet or dry hands, doesn't matter) to get rid of all the make up and dirt on my face.  
Will I repurchase: Yes, definitely!
In fact, I'm already regretting the decision of my replacement. 
My current replacement: Kao Biore Micellar Cleansing Water

Then, I have a facial spray that I usually use to set my make up in the morning.
Bio-essence Miracle Bio Water

Price range: Pricey
I'll say that it's a little pricey (about $17 for such a small bottle) for "just a spraying water".
Efficacy: Nothing visible (Bad)
The problem is, Bio-essence boasted too much about this product. Just for a spray of refreshment or to set make up, I'll say it's a decent buy. But marketed as a miracle water, I have to say that this product didn't really deliver what it has promised.
Will I repurchase: Yes.
In fact, I've repurchased a handful of times because I like how it sets my make up in the morning and spraying some in my stubborn tweety hair did help to soften them down a bit.
My current replacement: Nuxe Refreshing Moisturizing Mist

And for my trusty facial sunscreen....
Biore UV Perfect Face Milk
Price: Affordable 
Typical pricing of a drugstore brand, even cheaper than other brands like Neutrogena and Loreal.
Efficacy: Excellent
What I absolutely love about Biore UV products is that they're more towards the mattifying range, with those milky lotion like consistency that doesn't leave your skin sticky and oily. The highly raved one is the pink bottle, which serves to brighten up your completion, but this one works just as well if you do not have horrible dull skin.
Will I repurchase: Yes, definitely!
Have been using Biore UV for years. After I found them, I never switch to any other sunscreen brands, but just switch around different products in the same line of Biore UV.
My current replacement: Biore UV Aqua Rich

And one type of make up product which I've seldom used previously, but fell in love with this particular one.
Orbis UV Cut Liquid Foundation

Price range: Affordable
As mentioned above, Orbis is actually a departmental store brand priced at drugstore brand pricing. I can't remember the exact price of this liquid foundation, but I reckon it was $20 plus minus.
Efficacy: Average to Excellent (Depends)
The reason why I love this is because it's extremely lightweight and give a light coverage to even out your skin tone, but doesn't help to conceal your spots and blemishes much. So for ladies who prefer heavy coverage, this will not be a good choice for you. However, with SPF 50 PA+++, this will be an awesome product to use if you do not require much coverage and is lazy to spend that extra minute applying a separate sunscreen before putting on base make up.
Will I repurchase: Yes, definitely
This one of the rare liquid foundations which I have no fear of clogging up my pores and messing up my heavily facial dependent skin.
My current replacement: Pixi Flawless Beauty Fluid Liquid Foundation 

And the loose powder, which I've just emptied out recently....
Christian Mode BB Mineral Powder

Price range: Very affordable
I bought this in one of the drugstore while I was in Japan previously, and I got this for about SGD $15 only, for such a big tub!
Efficacy: Average
The powder isn't exactly very fine and smooth, no amazing oil control benefits either. This is just a very normal loose powder that I got in Japan with a pretty cheap price tag.
Will I repurchase: No
If I'm not wrong, this brand Christian Mode is not available in stores anywhere in Singapore. So nope, I won't be repurchasing this online either.
My current replacement: Luv Carat Loose Powder

Have you used these empties of mine or even my current replacements? Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think about them!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mia's Review: Pies & Coffee

Remember during my review of Group Therapy Cafe, I mentioned about the yummy pies from Pies & Coffee? Yup, this is one extremely overdue post, but still, here it is! 

I remembered my first visit with T was an unplanned one. We wanted to drop by The Ground's, which is actually a few shops away, but turned out it wasn't opened. So, Pies & Coffee it was! 

It was a pretty small outlet, with the interior seating of probably around 15 to 20 pax, and even though they're named Pies & Coffee, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they do have some pretty looking desserts as well, just that their pies were indeed filling and on both occasions I dropped by, I didn't have sufficient stomach space to try out any of their sweet treats. 

Even though not exceptionally affordable, all their pies are still reasonably priced at $10 ish or so.

Chicken Cheddar Pie
The pie crust is crumbly crisp with a hint of buttery toasted fragrance, and the pie filling so moist with generous amount of gravy, yet doesn't soften the pie crust that much.

A snap to show you just how moist the filling was. It was almost like a soup bowl, no kidding! The filling was packed full of cheesy goodness with quite a generous chunks of chicken that was cooked till it has soaked up the cheesy savoury flavour of the gravy.

Other than Chicken Cheddar, I've also tried their Lamb Shank and Chicken & Mushroom Pies, out of which the latter has paled in comparison as compared to the other two.

Hot Honey Yuzu Tea

Frankly speaking, I have no idea why they served a piece of chocolate cookie along with my honey yuzu tea.
And on a side note, Pies and Coffee uses Toby Estate's roasted coffee beans, so all coffee lovers out there, do remember to get a cuppa coffee when you're here!

For more information, visit their website HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ronald McDonald House Charities' 40th Anniversay: Show Your Stripes

Since 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities has been actively helping families find strength in numbers through a network of local chapters. And to commemorate 40 fruitful years of keeping troubled families together to help ill children heal and cope better, McDonald's Singapore has planned a series of activities in celebration of RMHC's 40th Anniversary. 

RMHC Singapore was incepted in 1989 and till date, has extended much needed help to over 900 needy and sick children for their medical, surgical, and rehabilitative treatment costs, with grants amounting to over $5 million. Since January 2013, RMHC has also provided a "home-away-from-home" at absolutely no charge, for families to be able to stay close to their hospitalised children at the National University Hospital, and has served over 170 families till date. 

Over the next few weeks, McDonald's Singapore will be initiating a series of fundraising activities to rally public support for RMHC Singapore, to help continue bringing love, as powerful as the strongest medicine, to sick children. This series of activities will be held in conjunction with a global movement by McDonald's restaurants worldwide, to celebrate the charity's 40 years of fruitful hard work. 
And do you know that for every Happy Meal sold, McDonald's also contribute 5 cents from the sale to the charity? 

And of course, what's most important for a fundraising activity? Community support! 
To show your support for RMHC Singapore and all our needy and sick children, there's a few ways for all of you to join in and spread the love. 

From 15 October to 28 October, you can make a donation to RMHC Singapore by purchasing a pair of red and white striped socks at either $10, $20 or $50 via Groupon

In appreciation of every purchase, McDonald's has also included a redemption coupon for a free Strawberry Sundae treat, which also happens to fit our colour theme of red and white! 

To help raise awareness for this meaningful movement, do show your support by dressing in red and white stripes (you can just wear the pair of socks too!) or creating your own red-and-white themed images and sharing them along with all your well wishes for these families on Instagram with hashtags #forRMHC and #RMHCSG. 

And that's not all! 
RMHC's 40th Anniversary celebrations will culminate on McDonald's annual McHappy Day, on 16 November 2014, with the McHappy Day Walk and Sale of the socks all across Singapore. There'll also be a #forRMHC party held at Tampines Mall from 1pm to 5pm, which is opened to public. So do remember to drop by and join in the fun at booths for balloon sculpting, children's face painting, games and many more. And on top of that, Ronald will also be making an appearance for a photo taking session with the children! 

Even Jelly is loving this cute socks!

So what are you waiting for, head over to Groupon right now and start spreading the love! 

For more information, visit RMHC SG and McDonald's SG

Till then,
Mia Foo

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Mia's Baking: Fondant Cupcakes

Some time ago, I attended a fondant baking class under Bakin Cow (BakinCalf Baking Class) with my girlies. 
I was always intrigued by all those fondant cake decorations and amazed by how pretty the designs those nimble-handed bakers can come up with, but never ever wanted to try it out for myself, knowing how tricky fondant can be to work with. 
However, as a bonding session with the girls, we thought, why not? And so we went ahead with the registration for the entire clique!

First up, I really have to extend my apologies to Shinni, our baking teacher, for we were so late for the class! Almost 45 minutes late, and it got our baking lesson to a slightly gloomy start. However, Shinni was quick to get over our tardiness (which, frankly speak IS a form of disrespect) and opened up to us soon enough to make our private session a fun one, filled with lots of laughter. 

Couldn't help it but snapped a picture of the baby pink KitchenAid. 
I want one too! T.T

The cupcakes we baked for the day was red velvet cupcakes, which recipe I shall not share for this is from a baking class and was a non-sponsored event. 

Oh well, just showing you the butter cream frosting we made and all the frosted cupcakes waiting to be topped up with the fondant decoration. :)
The class entitled every pax to go home with 6 standard sized cupcakes in a box, carrier not provided. 

And here's us (or rather, some of us) going kuku (crazy) over the very 'disobedient' fondant bits and pieces. 

Curious on what's the design theme for the class?
Yes, it wedding theme! 
This is my own creation (every single step painstakingly taught by Shinni, of course). 

And the greater (or greatest) challenges no doubt is the traditional Chinese costumes. Yes, these are definitely NOT my creation, but was Shinni's favourite for the day. She loved the tikopek moustache given to the groom. Hahaha! 

The two main challenges, no doubt has to be the chinese button details on the bride's kua and the silk ribbon on the groom's attire. 
These two were my worst nightmares, ever!

A glimpse of what the silk ribbon ball is made up of. A total of 9 rolled up pointed tip bits, stacked up in 2 layers, 4 on 5, with a ball stuck in the middle of the "flower". 
Sounds easy enough, but they take a million tries to hold their place altogether. 

And the button detail for the bride's kua was also a big challenge as the fondant needs to be rolled as thin as possible to make the button delicate. However, the thinner it is, the quicker it hardens up. So even before I could proceed to roll the strip into a tear drop shape, it has harden up and broke / crack instead. 
Major pull-hair moment. T.T 

And of course, what do you do when you're with your girlies?
Camwhoring time! 
A happy selfie with my completed fondant red velvet cupcakes!

After the workshop, I can further confirm that fondant is really not my cup of tea. Yes, it helps us to create amazingly beautiful designs, but let's face it, they really do not taste fantastic. Plus the more extensive the design, it probably means the more bare fingers kneading of the fondant.

"Kneading, so what? All bread doughs are kneaded with bare hands too."

Yeah, but they get baked at hundred over degree Celsius after, while these fondant goes directly into your tummy. And I haven't even get to the point of how much food colouring gets kneaded into those white fondant to get brightly coloured fondants.

Eh, nope. No thanks, I'm full.

Do not get me wrong, I did not throw all the 6 cupcakes away. It was just the fondants....

For more information on Bakin Cow's products and price list, visit their website HERE.
For more information on Bakin Calf's baking classes visit their website HERE.

Till then,
Mia Foo

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mia's Review: Old School Delights

Yup, I'm once again back with another food review! This time, I've tried out the pretty famous (made it onto one of the must visit cafe lists floating around) Old School Delights located at the cafe infested area of Upper Thomson. 

The cafe decoration gives off a strong classroom / school canteen vibe. There's even a blackboard written up with the Top 10 list of the things you should know if you're an 'old school' at heart.

A wall mounted shelving was located at the entrance, selling numerous 'old school' trinkets like captek, marbles, bouncing balls etc.

Their menu also comes in the form of a jotter book!

On the table, sits a wooden box named the 'Toy Box'.

And it was filled with the old school games of five stones, snakes, donkey, and erasers!
And of course, other than five stones (which T didn't even wanted/know how to play), I lost at every other games. T.T

And as my visit was a good while ago, no definite pricing shall be stated as I can't remember them well. But prices are still considered affordable for a cafe, but pricier if you compare the dish 'apple to apple'. Eg, you can get them at a few dollars cheaper if you've ordered them at your neighbourhood coffee shop or hawker centre.

Our drinks for the night - Milo and Barley.
I wanted Milo Dinosaur while T wanted Horlick Dinosaur, but both are sold out.
The milo was okay, but the barley became quite washed down from all the ice after a while.

Nasi Briyani with Fried Chicken.

The rice is quite a disappointment, tasting more like just plain rice cooked drier and dyed yellow and orange. There's totally no fragrance of our usual briyani rice, much less to say of any taste. However, the fried chicken was simply divine! Fresh from the fryer, it was piping hot, with the skin totally crispy and the well marinated meat flavourful. I wouldn't say the meat was succulent and tender, for it was more on the dry side but the crispiness and tasty flavour just made every bite so satisfying!
I didn't feel much for the curry gravy, for it was the more 'traditional' Indian curry taste with the distinctive taste of spices. The achar was not too sour, the cucumber remains pretty crunchy, just nice for my tastebuds.
Just for the fried chicken itself, I'll say this was worth it.

T's mains for the night - Home-Style Curry Chicken

I asked him to try out their signature dish, the Mee Siam, but it was also sold out for the night, so he chose this instead. This was pretty okay, the curry deviating more towards the Chinese home-cooked style, flavourful and comfortably spicy.

Jumbo Otak.

Hmm, once again this is just of mediocre standards. For an otak, I will prefer it to be slightly spicier, and the otak meat was a little too tender it tasted kind of mushy and feels "undercooked". Just my own personal liking, I prefer a chewy, slightly drier otak.

I was also eyeing their Sticky Chewy Chocolate Fudge cake, but when I was there, they were only left with the pound cake. T.T
Not sure if I'm just plain unlucky or they really get sold out on their popular dishes so early into the night, so just to play safe, do drop by earlier in the evening or do a lunch instead if you're interested to try them out. :)

For more information on OSD, visit their website HERE

Have you joined MollyMia's beauty giveaway yet?
5 days remaining, so hurry and check it out HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mia's Recipe: Vanilla Sugar Cookies & (Failed) Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

In slightly more than 12 hours, I will be off to China for my 1 week break with my family! So before my 1 week hiatus, let's try out some baking!
Together with Sa, we tried our hands at 2 recipes in a day, one adapted from Laura Vitale and another from Yoyomax12. They're both really amazing bakers so if you haven't checked them out on youtube, please do. 

First up, let's get on with Laura's Vanilla Sugar Cookies. 
We'll need:

224g of AP Flour
1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
1/2 tsp of Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
227g of Unsalted Butter
(about) 170g Sugar + sufficient for coating
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

First up, cream the butter, soften at room temperature, with the sugar and mix in the egg until well incorporated. 
Mix in the vanilla extract before sifting in all the dry ingredients to get a pretty soft and gooey batter. 
Next, using a cookie-scoop or just a tablespoon, scoop the batter uniformly into a bowl of sugar and coat them well before putting them on a baking sheet, at least 1 to 2 inches apart for they spread quite a lot, to bake at 175 degree Celsius for about 15 to 18 minutes if you're making large (subway sized) cookies. 
Our batches of large sized cookies rolled in caster sugar before baking. 

Just an additional tip, Laura's recipe actually called for 200g of sugar, but since we wanted it less sweet, we only added in 170g of sugar and did 2 batches, one not rolled in sugar and one rolled in sugar. For someone with just an average liking for sweetness, I will recommend you skipping the sugar coating as well, if not the cookies will turn out to be very, very sweet. 
Also, do make the cookies much smaller in size as the cookies are of a more crumbly texture and the bigger they are the easier they crumble to pieces as you pick them up. 

Our batches of bite sized cookies that were not rolled in sugar before baking. Just showing you a gauge of how much the batter will spread in the oven. :)

Next up, it was Yoyomax12's recipe for Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies! Prior to the baking day, I've already spooned out teaspoonfuls of nutella on a sheet of baking paper and kept them in the freezer to 'stuff' them into the batter for baking. But it ended up as a big flop. Why so? Read on to find out. For now, let's get on with the ingredients so we can get started. 

We'll need:
295g of AP Flour
70g of Cocoa Powder (unsweeten)
1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
250g of Unsalted Butter
155g of Caster Sugar
160g of Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
396g of Chocolate Chips (Semi Sweet)
(about) 30 spoonfuls of frozen nutella 

As usual, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy before beating in the eggs and vanilla extract till incorporated. 
Then, sift in all the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips before leaving the batter in the fridge for at least 2 hours to stiffen up. 
And after 2 hours we're supposed to shape the stiffen dough into dough balls with the frozen nutella as the filling. But here came the issue. 
The dough was too too hard to shape and the nutella starts to melt IMMEDIATELY when taken out from the freezer in our hot climate. 
So unless you are quick at shaping the dough balls plus you don't mind doing it by taking out the nutella globs from your freezer ONE BY ONE (recipe makes about 30 cookies), go ahead. 
If not, skip this stuffing to save you a lot of hassle. 

If you're baking them in large sizes, spread them 1 to 2 inches apart as they also do spread a great deal, and bake them at 175 to 180 degree Celsius for 9 to 12 minutes, or until the top starts to crack. I know it's hard to gauge when the such double chocolate cookies are done as it is impossible to see them browning in the oven. 
As I like my chocolate cookie drier and crumblier, I tend to go lower with my temperature (I set mine at 160 to 170 degree Celsius) and bake them for longer time (I baked my bite sized cookies for about 10 minutes) to make them 'crunchier'. It might also get a little burnt, giving them the bitter chocolate taste. 
Ha Ha Ha! Yes, I know I'm weird. 

Looks good, no?

And here's sharing how the actual stuffed cookie will look like. We gave up on it after seeing how it will turn out as:
1. The nutella stuffing will not be runny at all
2. You really cannot taste the difference of having nutella as the surprise centre

My share of the cookies. 

Sa's share of the cookies. Yes, she took most of the plain uncoated vanilla sugar cookies as she felt that it was horribly sweet. 

So, have you tried similar recipe before? Especially some nutella stuffed cookies, and succeeded? Do share with me your tips in the comment box below! 

Have you joined MollyMia's first beauty giveaway yet? Giveaway is closing this month so do hurry and check it out HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo
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