McDonald’s Happy Meals Books (from Dorling Kindersley)

I am a “bookworm” from young; probably influenced by my books-loving mother too.

When I was in primary school, I recalled calling home to ask my mum to allow my teacher to lend me money to buy books from a school book fair. I can so see Xi En doing that too! 😛

Imagine my excitement when I knew that McDonald’s is introducing Dorling Kindersley (DK) mini book series free with the purchase of every Happy Meal!

We picked up a similar book when we visited a Mcdonald’s in Melbourne last Sept and I thought it was a fabulous idea to giveaway books instead of toys. Of course, there were interesting toys such as those really cute convertibles cars/trucks! But I love books and I supposed all parents wished their child read widely too? 😀

And now, we have them in Singapore! How exciting! My boys, especially 6 years old Xi En lost no time to pore over the books.

A preview of the series of books which will be introduced in coming weeks:

HM book 1

These mini books are good quality and informative non-fictions. There are basically 2 series – “Watch Me Grow” and “WOW”. The former is a focus on animals’ stages of growth with flip out corners suitable 3 to 5 years old. The “WOW” series are a spectacular show and tell experience, going deeper into various worldwide subjects; suitable for 6 to 9 years old. They come with stickers to paste onto various pages to make learning more interactive for the younger ones.

Preview of sample pages:

Starting from 3rd Sept 2015, there will be 2 new titles introduced every Thursday at 11am. Each mini Happy Meal Book will be given free with the purchase of a  McDonald’s Happy Meal. Collect all 8 titles (whilst stocks last! and I do think they will go fast!).

If you are new to McDonald’s Happy Meals (*shocked look*), it comprise of kids-sized fares including a main, a dessert and a drink (+ a toy/book of course!).

In recent years, McDonald’s has also taken effort to include healthier options such as Corn Cup (with reduced sodium), Apple Slices and even switching to using Canola Blend oil to fry Chicken McNuggets after they are par fried in sunflower oil. This changes had reduced the level of saturated fat by approximately 30%. Calorie-per-set-meal can be as low as 351 calories if you choose a 4-piece Chicken McNuggets with Apple Slices and Magnolia Lo-Fat Hi-Cal Milk. (*source: McDonald’s PR media kit).

And so with healthier options available, there is probably little to stop you from getting a Happy Meal for your child today! In my opinion, these easy-to-read books are just too good to miss out. Look out for the titles in coming weeks:

Week 1: 3 Sep – 9 Sep

1. Watch me grow! Panda

2. WOW! Human Body

Week 2: 10 Sep – 16 Sep

3. Watch me grow! Butterfly

4. WOW! Art and Culture

Week 3: 17 Sep – 23 Sep

1. Watch me grow! Elephant

2. WOW! Ancient History

Week 4: 24 Sep –30 Sep

3. Watch me grow! Penguin

4. WOW! Space

More details can be found on Singapore McDonald’s website – https://www.mcdonalds.com.sg/our-stories/food-for-thought-with-happy-meal-books/

Happy Munching and Reading! 🙂

N.B: Thank you to MacDonald’s for sending us the whole series of DK mini books as a preview! In all true honesty, I would have feast on MacDonald’s Happy Meals for next few weeks just to get collect these mini books even if they weren’t sent to us! No further compensation were received. We are happy to share happy news with our readers! 🙂

Homely fare at Gu Ma Jia 姑妈家

In view of the upcoming Mother’s Day, Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) kindly invited some bloggers for a feast and review of their home-cooked dishes. I have heard positive reviews for a while and keen to check it out myself.

As the shop’s name implies, dining here is akin to dining at an Auntie’s house. The woman behind the show is affably known as Gu Ma and she honed her cooking skills while growing up in Pulau Ubin. Together with Head Chef Yap Geok Loong from Malaysia, they created homely Chinese dishes which do warm the hearts and fill the tummies.

Here are some of the highlights we tasted for the evening:

Fruity Enzyme Drink – I am quite acquainted with fruit enzyme as my mum makes them at home! It is the liquid collected after the fermentation of fruits. There is a widespread agreement that there is good probiotic bacteria in fruit enzyme. But honestly, I have yet to fully appreciate it’s slight sour taste. The jelly at the bottom does help to make it more palatable for our taste buds.

Crispy Bean Jal – Often mistaken as bacon, this is actually deep fried brinjal with four season beans. The dish see me going for seconds just because it doesn’t taste like eggplant! Coated with marmite-like sweet sauce, this is seriously addictive.

Ubin Lala Bee Hoon – the highlight is not the lala. It is the wet beehoon soaked in savoury broth! I am a fan of wet beehoon and this goes down very well with me. The beehoon is unlike some which you found at zi char stalls where they barely boil the beehoon and throw the gravy on top. This Pulau-Ubin style dish is soaked through with flavours. A must-order.

XO Prawn Noodles – the photo doesn’t do the dish justice. A classic Cantonese dish, the special home-made XO sauce (almost soup-like) made me eat more of the yellow noodles which I would have normally avoided. Fresh succulent big prawns are the highlights too! A must-try.

Gu Ma Signature Traditional Bean Curd Soup – This plain looking soup is no plain Jane. It is power boiled over 6 hours with ingredients such as salted fish head, Chinese ham, pork ribs, peanuts and bean curd. I loved the wholesome taste and Xi En had more than a bowl too. Really comforting double boiled goodness.

Homemade Yam Ring with Kyoto Pork Ribs – Lip smacking sweet ribs (no bones, yeah!) with creamy and crispy yam ring. I will order this again.

Assam Fish Head – Not too spicy and you can still taste the sweetness of the flesh amidst the spices. Gravy goes well with rice definitely; might be too small a portion for the real fish lovers though.

Salted Egg Yolk Crab – My favourite next to chilli crab. The flesh comes off the shell easily and the salted egg yolk is fingers-licking good!

Yuan Yang Kai Lan – Kai Lan done in 2 way – blanched and fried. It’s like 2-in-1 shampoo I think. If you can’t decide how to have your vegetables, how about having them 2 ways?

Shrimp paste chicken mid joint – A common dish but not all chefs get them well.  This is above average with the right amount of shrimp paste though I could have them crispier.

Desserts (Left to right/Top to Bottom)

Mango Pudding – Not on menu yet.

Gu Ma’s Dessert – $4 (hot or cold)

Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream – $3.80 (my favourite; pardon the melted ice-cream photo!)

Fruity Enzyme Jelly – $5.80 (this is an acquired taste. you need to appreciate enzyme in order to like the healthier dessert option).

Husband and I agreed that the dishes are homely fare cooked in a more meticulous way. It is similar to having a meal at your “Auntie’s” house except it might actually be better than hers! With no additional MSG, less oil and healthier food options (such as brown rice), you can be sure Gu Ma Jia is a Mummies-approved place. For the upcoming Mother’s Day, there is a promotion and a set menu which is available from 1st May to 17th May 2015.  Details as below. Ala carte options are available too. Do make an early reservation if you are planning for Mother’s Day. Parking are available along the roadsides but be prepared to wait a while during peak dining hours.

Details:

Website: http://gumajia.com.sg/

Address: 45 Tai Thong Crescent, Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

GMJ_motherday2015v6

N.B: We were kindly invited for a food tasting session. All opinions and photos are ours except credited. No further compensation is received.

Get Saucy, Salty and Wet this Songkran!

What a teaser tagline!

I like it! 😀

Saucy and Salty I meant. Wet – not quite. 😛

For the uninitiated, Songkran refers to the traditional New Year’s Day which is celebrated from 13th to 15th April in Thailand. If you are in the county, get ready to be drenched, soaked, poured, sprayed with water – a symbol of washing away all the bad. Well, if you are not in Thailand during that season, fret not. Soak up the atmosphere with sizzling spicy food at your friendly ThaiExpress or Basil!

We were kindly invited to sample the new dishes in conjunction with the Songkran festival at Basil by ThaiExpress. Basil is a contemporary casual dining restaurant with a fresh and young interpretation on Thai food. I actually prefer Basil’s fresh outlook and “hipper” feel. It’s located at Kallang Wave, Sport Hub Retail Mall if you will like to check it out.

Drinks to start off the dinner; try the Virgin Basil Mojito, Bael or Roselle Drink for a refreshing take. If you like a sweeter beverage, the Pandan drink or the traditional Thai Iced Tea will not fail. One tip here: If you can’t take spices that well, get a Thai Iced Tea. The milk will help to neutralise the “fire” in the tummy. 🙂

Without much disappointment, we tasted rich varieties of spices in traditional Thai cooking styles. Here are what’s new on the menu:

1) Phad Mee Phuket (Stir-fried Thai-Style Bee Hoon served with Tiger Prawns)

The bee-hoon had been infused with a homemade sweet and sour sauce and every bite entails a taste of fragrant coconut taste. This is right up my alley! I enjoy bee-hoon slightly wetter with sauces and the “lemak” taste make it so Singapura! Tiger Prawns are fresh and succulent; done nicely to the T. This is my favourite new dish for the evening. Share it with a few persons to allow tummy space for other dishes! 🙂

2) Songkran Wing

Now now now…. what is there not to like about deep fried chicken wings???!!!! If there is any food that you can bribe me with; it got to be fried chicken wings. We try not to deep fry too much at home and thus my indulgence got to be fulfilled when we dine out.

These wings are specially sprinkled with crispy basil leaves, fried garlic flakes, dried chilli, salt and sugar. It could do better with a longer time in marinating to give the meat more depth but otherwise, I will devour any chicken wings with crispy golden brown skins! Yes – I eat skins! Do you? 😛 (Gone with that diet-plan for now).

3) Pla Muk Khi Khem ( Thai-Style Salted Egg Calamari)

My 2 favourite ingredients doing a duet! This is something tough to duplicate at home due to the high heat needed for this dish to taste good. With a unique sweet-creamy salted egg sauce coupled with a slight tinge of basil and spice, it marries the squid pretty well. A twist to the usual salted egg dishes, try this for a twist in your usual salted egg dishes.

4) Som Tum (Papaya Salad)

I hate papaya. period. I dislike papaya to the core!

And guessed what I didn’t realise I ate papaya salad till I started writing this post and was reading the menu! Ok – granted – it’s green papaya. And it is such a refreshing appetizer that I didn’t ask further what were the ingredients! It was the dish nearest to me and I greedily gobbled it up! Enough said, order this as an alternative to the usual green mango salad.  It’s so good that you don’t know you are eating papaya (yes, papaya-loathers? Or it’s just me?!)

Some other dishes we had which are worthy a mention too:

** Grilled Beef Salad **

Chewy sliced ribeye beef tossed in chilli & lime dressing and sprinkled with roasted rice. This is a chef recommendation and I totally agree. Load up if you like your beef spicy! I enjoyed this while the hubby felt it’s a little too spicy for him.

** Fresh Prawn Omelette **

Simple as it sounds; but big on taste and crunch especially when it’s paired with fried basil and the special chilli dip on the side. One of those dishes that is tough to get it right at home as you need a deep oil wok with a big fire. Order this if you are craving for simple comfort food! 🙂

Lastly we sampled almost all the desserts!

Thai desserts are sweet and sweet! If you like your desserts sweet, you have to order one here.

Sharing with you 2 of my favourites:

** Mango Sticky Rice **

Good quality mangos on a bed of warm sticky rice served with fresh coconut cream; B.E.S.T. combination. If you have tummy space for only 1 dessert, got-to-try-this.

** Homemade Lod Chong **

Not my first time having Lod Chong but I kinda forgotten it’s name! The lod chong is freshly home-made and has a slightly herby-fresh taste (like chewing on a fresh mint). It goes well with the sweet coconut-based dessert. Good for those who might like a lighter taste for desserts.

Win a luxurious trip to Thailand

In collaboration with Bangkok Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand, ThaiExpress will be giving away a pair f return Business Class tickets to Bangkok and Koh Samui to experience the festival of SOngkran in Thailand itelse.f!

Winners will fly off on 10th April to Koh Samui, stay 1 night in Anantara Lawana Samui Resrt & Spa –Deluxe Plunge Pool Room from 10th to 11th April followed by 3 night stay in a 1 bedroom Suite in Anantara Sathorn Bangkok from 11th to 14th April 2015. The accommodations include breakfast and a round trip airport transfer.

How?

Simply spend a minimum of $50 (before GST and service charge) to get a free mini water gun (great for waterplay!) and a unique code to enter the lucky draw for the grand prize. The unique codes will be given out till 29th March and the winner will be announced on ThaiExpress’ Facebook Page on 1st April 2015.

Pose and Win

If you at ThaiExpress/Basil outlets, you will see a “Trick-eye” museum-like standees, Pose with it and post it on Instagram with the hashtages #thaiexpresssg and #songkranthaiexpress, and stand to win $200 worth of ThaiExpress vouchers. The 3 most creative photos will be chosen as winners! We are “gunning” for it too!” 😛

More details on the Songkran promotion at http://songkran.thaiexpress.com.sg

Basil 1

Don’t miss the promotion now!

Check ThaiExpress website: www.thaiexpress.com.sg and Basil: http://basil.com.sg/ for more details and locations of outlets.

^Songkran promotional dishes will be available 9th March till 19th April 2015.

Disclaimer: We were kindly invited to sample the new dishes in line with Songkran festival. No other compensation had been received. All photos and opinions remain blogger’s own. Flabbier tummy included.