Saturday, February 28, 2009

Frutezia by Wild Vines

After getting our groceries at the supermarket yesterday, we popped over to the liquor store next door to browse around. That particular liquor store carries a very wide range of different wines from various regions in America as well other countries. They also carry all types of beers and mixers. We were looking for something sweet and fruity, maybe a Muscat or Riesling. We were in the Californian wine aisle and saw this.

The Frutezia range by Wild Vines. It's actually a semi sparkling white wine with fruit blends from Modesto, California. There are four different blends but we decided to try out two out of the four. We got the Sunshine Blend and Tropical Blend. The other two are the Orchard Blend (green apples) and the Passion Blend (Strawberry and Kiwi). It's only $4.99 for a 750ml bottle and $7.99 for a 1.5l bottle. Wild Vines also have another range of fruit wines. They are the Strawberry White Zinfandel, Blackberry Merlot and Raspberry Zinfandel. You can drink it as it is or you can mix it with other ingredients to make a fabulous punch.

We opened the Tropical Blend Frutezia last night. It has a blend of mango and pineapple. The moment we opened the bottle, the smell of mango and pineapple just filled the air. The wine doesn't stay bubbly for very long. In fact, it was less than a minute or two before it went flat. However, the wine was very very sweet. It somewhat reminded me of a pina colada, minus the coconut. I find it to be just alright but for $4.99, there are no complains.

We opened up the Sunshine Blend Frutezia tonight. Same as last night, the bubbles didn't last for long. However, I just love the taste of the peach and orange blend! It's way better than the Tropical blend. It's also very sweet and easy drinking.

I feel that the Frutezia range is generally an easy drinking wine for the ladies. Kevin doesn't really like it at all. I don't blame him :P I love the Sunshine Blend Frutezia. It's pretty much a refreshing summer time/ pool party kind of drink. It has a 6% alcohol content, way lower than regular wines. However, one must be careful. It's so sweet and easy drinking, you might have the tendency to gulp it down like you are drinking some non alcoholic fruit juice. It also has a twist cap, so it works well if you want to take it to a picnic or the beach. I would recommend this to someone who is looking for something sweet and refreshing. For those ladies who just dislike that tannic aftertaste in certain types of wine, this one is for you. Cheap, easy drinking and not too high in alcohol content. Always a good mix :D

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is it Easter already?

We were at the supermarket just a while ago to pick up some milk and bread and guess what we saw? A whole section dedicated to Easter candy and decorations!! Isn't it a little bit early for Easter stuff? It's not even March yet!! Looks like Easter is slowly getting as commercialized as Christmas. The sad thing is, amidst all the spring colors, candy and Easter bunnies, I do not see anything that reminds me of the true meaning of Easter. That Jesus died on the cross and rose again for you and me.
Anyway, since the display was so nice and there were so many different candies of display...we went to check it out. I actually wanted to look for my favorite Easter candy. It's the Cadbury Easter Eggs! I just love them! I can hear you going tsk tsk tsk, just a while ago she was ranting about Easter being commercialized and now she is talking about Easter candy :P Gimme a break laaa, the Cadbury Easter Eggs are just too good!

It comes in two flavors, Creme and Caramel. The shell is made out of milk chocolate and it's filled with soft fondant (creme eggs) or caramel (caramel eggs). It's been almost a year since the last time I had those yummy eggs so I had to get a box each :D So yummy yummy yummy.

One the way out to the cash register, we walked by the bakery section of the supermarket. We saw the yummiest thing on sale!

It looked so yummy. Banana Creme Pie with chopped almonds sprinkled on top. It was only $4.99 for a large pie. Soooo, we decided to buy one home too. We ate a slice each once we got home and mmmm mmmm mmmm. It's really good, with big chunks of banana, yummy banana cream and loads of whipped cream. Really fattening but reallllllly good :P Not bad for only $4.99. The next time you are at the bakery section in Shoprite, you should check it out.

With that, it concludes our Friday night outing to the supermart. The plan was to just run in and out to get some bread and milk but we ended up with all those yummy but unhealthy impulse buys. Oh well, you only live once. A little candy and pie won't hurt! :P

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stuffed Jumbo Shells

I made some Stuffed Jumbo Shells for dinner tonight. There are generally two types of stuffed shells, one made with ricotta cheese and the other with cottage cheese. I made the one with ricotta cheese today. Some people say that the original stuffed shells are made with ricotta cheese but I don't know. I just prefer the taste of ricotta cheese to cottage cheese. Here are the ingredients that you would need to make stuffed shells.
A pack of jumbo shells, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, frozen spinach, 1 lb of beef, one egg and pasta sauce.

First, cook the jumbo shells as per instructions on the box in boiling water until al dente. I only used half a box of shells.

Drain the shells and set it aside to cool. You can lay it out on wax paper to prevent it from sticking.

In a pan, brown 1lbs of ground beef. Once it's done, drain all the excess grease and fat from the pan.

Add in the pasta sauce and some Italian seasoning. Bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat, set it aside and allow it to cool.

Now it's time to make the filling for the shells. In a large bowl, mix one large egg with one small tub of ricotta cheese.

Add in one box of thawed spinach into the mixture. Fold it into the mixture.

Next, add in some shredded Mozzarella cheese. Crack in some freshly ground black pepper. Mix all the ingredients together well.

Once that is done, you are ready to stuff the shells. Make sure the shells are fully cooled before stuffing. Just pinch the shells open and using a teaspoon, fill it with the ricotta cheese mixture.

If you are not ready to cook them yet, you can just cover them with cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Therefore, you can make this a few hours ahead of time..if you want to.

Now it's time to assemble the whole dish together. Spray some non stick cooking oil on a large glass baking pan. Spoon some of the meat sauce that we made earlier and line the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the stuffed shells on top of it.

Pour some more meat sauce over the shells.

Cover it with aluminium foil and bake it in a preheated (375F) oven for about 40 minutes.

Once it's done, take it out from the oven and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and parsley. It is now ready to be served!

We really like this recipe. It's so easy to make and really yummy to eat! :D

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Grand Tour of Our Apt

It's already been about 9 months since we moved from Perth Amboy to Newark and we still haven't posted up any photos of the new place. I know I know, many of you have asked how our new place looks like (especially my family and friends in Malaysia) here it is. The grand tour of our apartment.

We are now living in Forest Hill, located in Northern Newark. You guys must be saying...Newark?? Isn't Newark like a bit dangerous?? With all the shootings and extremely high crime rate? Well, this is not THAT part of Newark. There are nice neighborhoods in Newark too, you know :P You can read more about the Forest Hill neighborhood over here.

Anyway, this is our apartment building. It's not a current photo, I think I took this photo about 9 months ago, when we first moved in. It looks pretty much the same, except that trees and shrubs are all 'botak' now. Hey, it's still winter! :P
We live in a one bedroom apartment on the 6th floor of a 17 storey building. It's about 850 sq ft, a little bit small for some but it works for us. Rent is really a killer in these parts. I guess it all boils down to location or space...and at this point in life, location is more important for us. We do not need much space :D This is the entrance way that greets you when you step into our humble abode.

Let's make a right turn and this will lead you to our bedroom. It's pretty basic, nothing fancy here. Our bed on one side of the room and two large closets on the other side. Check out our guitars. The brown guitar is Kevins and the black one belongs to me :D I also like how my closet is almost twice as big as Kevins. You can't see it from this angle, but it's really deep.

This is our little computer nook/work space in one corner of the bedroom. I like how the bedroom is pretty spacious for a small apartment. Do you like the caricature of us hanging on the wall? We got that done in the city by one of the street artists in Times Square. Also checkout our clothes hanger opps, I mean exercise bicycle at the corner :P

OK, let's move out of the bedroom and head towards the kitchen! It's a galley kind of kitchen, not that big but I love how I can look out to a great view when I'm cooking. Kevin's favorite kitchen appliance is at the end of the counter. A wine cooler that one of our friends gave us as a wedding present. I also like what's next to it. A gourmet spice rack! Also another wedding gift. We use both of it lots! :P

The other side of the kitchen. I just love the counter space. One long uncluttered counter space for me to prep food and stuff. The photos on the fridge is not our kids (I would have to give birth to the boy when I was 15 if they were my kids) but our nephew and niece! We have also started to collect fridge magnets from our travels. It's still a small collection but it's growing. Please disregard the shaker set, blender and margarita mix at the end of the counter. No, we are not alcoholics :P

Moving along...the walkway leading to the living room. My collection of cookbooks which we inherited from Kevin's dad and Kevin's sailing/knots/I dunno some ships thingy books. Also on display are photos of our family and friends.

This is our dining/board games/working on notebook area. We have dragged the cables out from the bedroom so that we can work on our notebooks and watch TV at the same time. This is also where the occasional Podany Scrabble Tournament takes place. Kevin and I love playing Scrabble!

Alas, this is the last stop of the tour. Our living room. The futon comes in handy when we have visitors. Just pull it out and it becomes a bed that can sleep two people. I took the black and white photos that are hanging on the wall about 6 years ago. It's taken at various locations in Malaysia. I just love it! The guitar shaped CD rack is actually made of cast iron. It's really heavy. I love it to bits cause it's the first thing I bought on eBay when I first came to America as a student. Kevin doesn't really like it that much but too bad hon, it's staying :D

Now, the real highlight of the apartment. This is part of the view that you can get from the apartment. Shown here in the photo is Midtown Manhattan. We get a panoramic view (from our living room, kitchen and bedroom) of the whole NYC skyline, starting from the Statue of Liberty to Lower Manhattan all the way up to Central Park and even a little bit into Harlem. We can also see the Passaic River, which is the county line for Essex and Hudson county.

As the sun goes down, the city just lights up before your very eyes. The view is actually one of the main reasons why we decided to rent this apartment. It's just amazing.

So, this concludes the grand tour of our tiny apartment. Whenever you are in the NJ/NY region, come visit us. Our futon is always open to all our family and friends!! :D

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My SDHC card is here!

We get weekly email circulars from featuring their latest promotions and specials. They sometimes have really good deals that you cannot get anywhere else. Last week, we saw a pretty good deal for a 4GB SDHC card and decided to get it. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow but when I checked my mailbox earlier today, I found this waiting for me!

Yay! It's here!! Shipping was really fast, considering the fact that we didn't pay a single cent for shipping. It was one of those "Free Shipping" offers. This is what's inside the envelope.

The sales receipt, some brochure and the SDHC card :D I still remember how memory cards were only 256 or 512MB back in the day. When we bought our 1GB SD card back then, it was the greatest thing. Now there are even 32GB cards (I think that's the largest capacity for now?). Not only have the capacity grown bigger and bigger, the cards are getting cheaper and cheaper. We got our 4GB SDHC card for only 8 bucks! Can you believe it? 8 bucks! That's even cheaper than getting a plate of Char Koay Teow in Hoboken! :P

The main reason why I got this new card is because I always run out of space on my 1GB card. I am not the greatest at deleting old/downloaded photos from my digital camera. With this new 4GB card, I can store about 887 10MP photos! Soooooo, now I can just shoot and shoot and only have to worry about deleting old photos once in a blue moon. Woohoo! Now, will you please excuse me while I go play with my new toy :P

Monday, February 23, 2009

Satay - Malaysian Cuisine

We were in Hoboken, New Jersey on Sunday, looking for this particular Malaysian restaurant that I have heard a lot about. Hoboken is a great neighborhood, just about 20 minutes away from our apartment in Forest Hill, Newark. It's just across the Hudson from Manhattan and you can get one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline from Hoboken. It is also easily accessible by the NJ Transit, PATH, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, NY Waterway ferries as will as all the major highways and bridges. Some of the notable residents of Hoboken is the late Frank Sinatra, Michael Chang, Eli Manning, Alex Rodriguez and the boys from My Chemical Romance.

The Malaysian restaurant we were looking for was Satay. It's located on Washington Street. Washington Street is equivalent to Bangsar back in Malaysia. Only bigger. It's lined with bars, upscale restaurants, trendy cafes and ethnic food joints. One little piece of trivia. Hoboken (thanks to Washignton St) is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as a city with "most bars in a square mile". You can just imagine the choices we have if we are looking for a restaurant or drinking place in Hoboken.

Satay is a small cosy restaurant at the corner of 1st and Washington St. It has this rustic feel to it, with exposed brick walls and dimly lit lights. Traditional Malay fishing baskets and wau's (Malaysian kites) can be found hanging on the walls. The tables were draped with tablecloths in colorful Batik motives. Very nice :)

The selection of Malaysian food in the menu was limited. There were more Americanized Chinese food than Malaysian food in the menu. The prices were also a little bit higher compared to the other Malaysian restaurants in this region. Kevin ordered his usual Char Koay Teow ($8.95) and I ordered Fried Indian Mee ($8.95). We then shared an order of Peanut Pancake ($5.95) for dessert.

The Char Koay Teow was really bad. It doesn't taste like Char Koay Teow at all. It tasted like it was just fried with soy sauce and loads and loads of pepper. The Indian Mee was a little bit better than the Char Koay Teow. It wasn't that bad but really, there is nothing to shout about. We kinda liked the Peanut Pancake though. It's Roti Canai with Ban Chang Koay filling. It's pretty good, tasted like the one in Penang Restaurant. For $5.95, its not too bad at all (it's $7.95 in Penang Restaurant).

To sum it all up, would I return to Satay? Well, I think Satay is a good place for non Malaysians to go for an evening of exploring and trying out 'Malaysian food'. I think their Satay, Roti Canai and other typical Malaysian food shouldn't be too bad and would be suitable for American tastebuds. The atmosphere is nice and I'm sure they will enjoy themselves. However, if you are Malaysian and looking for something authentic, then this is not the place for you.

Satay - Malaysian Cuisine
99 Washington Street,
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Tel: (201) 386-8688
Fax: (201) 386-1880

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Colombian BBQ Overdose

We didn't really feel like going out for dinner on Saturday night so we decided to order in some food. Instead of the usual Chinese or Pizza & Wings, we thought we would give this Colombian BBQ place a try. They slipped their menu under our door a while back and we have been wanting to try the BBQ from this place since then. Newark (especially the Ironbound District) and it's surrounding areas are well known for the Brazilian and Colombian BBQ. So, we called in to place our order.
The name of the restaurant is Columbia Parrilladas Restaurant. Parrilladas means BBQ in Spanish. Ordering food from this restaurant is no easy task. Firstly, more than half of the menu is in Spanish. When Kevin called to place the order, nobody in the restaurant seems to understand English. He was passed from one person to another and he could hear them talking in Spanish among themselves in the background. At last a person who could speak a little English came on the line and took our orders. Nobody could speak English..maybe the food would be good and authentic then? :P

Within half an hour, the delivery guy was at our door with a whole bunch of food. The food was still nice and warm. Very impressed. Oh and another good thing about this restaurant is that they offer free delivery and there isn't a tax. What you see on the menu is what you pay.

After we opened up the food from the brown bags, we were shocked by the amount of food!! It looks as though there was enough food to feed a party of 10! We ordered a Bandeja Paisa ($17) and one portion of Costillas De Cerdo ($7). The total bill came up to $24, excluding tips.

This is the Bandeja Paisa. It's a mixed BBQ tray for two people. For two people? I think it can feed 6 people, at least! You know the kind of trays caterer's use for buffets? That's the size of the tray! :P There were 3 large pieces of beef steak, one giant home made pork sausage, one pork crackling, 3 fried eggs, sliced BBQ plantains, two avocado halves, french fries, a whole tub of beans and yellow rice packed in that tray. I cannot believe the amount of rice they gave us, it lined the whole bottom of the tray..all packed in! So, we know that the portion size passed the test, but what about the taste?'s great! I do not know what they used to marinade the steaks but it was just so flavorful and good. The pork crackling wasn't as crispy as I would like it to be but it was alright too. The star of the night was the home made pork sausage. Really really good. It was so full of flavor, you can taste little burst of spices in each bite.

Costillas De Cerdo is actually Grilled Pork Ribs. That came with a huge amount of yellow rice and fries too! After tasting the super yummy Bandeja Paisa, the grilled pork ribs didn't really quite meet the mark. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Yes, it was juicy and stuff but the intense flavor of Colombian BBQ just wasn't there.

Overall, I think the food is good, portions are huge and the pricing is pretty affordable. I would definitely order from this restaurant again. Maybe I'll just order about 100 bucks worth of home made pork sausages! They are soooooooooo yummy! :P

Columbia Parrilladas Restaurant
65 Washington Avenue,
Belleville, NJ 07109
Tel: (973) 450-4500
Open Tuesday - Sunday ( 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM)