Restaurant Review: PappaRich, Garden City

Since I got back from holidays I have still been craving Singaporean food like crazy. I love the flavours and variety of the cuisine. Kway Teow, Laksa, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Roti, Kaya, Kopi…all so good. So when I discovered a new Malaysia restaurant serving all of my favourites I was over the moon. PappaRich recently opened a restaurant at Garden City Shopping Centre in Brisbane.

Pappa Rich is a Malaysian chain restaurant. They have locations in Wintergarden (Brisbane CBD) and Gold Coast. They have more locations across many cities in Australia, New Zealand, United States and Asia. Although PappaRich is a chain,  it doesn’t serve mass produce food. From what I could gather,  they are consistent with their quality and authenticity of Malaysian cuisine and the food is all cooked freshly on site.

The menu consists of multiethnic dishes from Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cuisine “with a twist of South East Asian flair”. So there are many of the classic dishes that I saw in Singapore, which also features all of these cuisines. The menu is broken into breads (eg. kaya toast), dim sum, noodles (eg. fried noodles, noodle soups), rice (eg. Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak), roti (pastry with curry), satay (sticks), sharing (meat and vegetable mains), vegetarian, signature dishes (best sellers), desserts (eg. puddings, iced kacang), and beverages (eg hot or cold teas and coffees).


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4# Life Update: meeting plans and goals

Hi guys, hope you’re having a great weekend. How is everyone going with their New Years resolutions?

At the beginning of this year, I announced my New Years Plans and Goals. I had three major plans for this year:

  • travel to Singapore
  • getting my driving licence
  • go back to university.

Well so far, so good. I have already gone and returned from my trip to Singapore. I am currently in the middle of organising my photos and writing my travel series for this trip. My most recent posts were my Singapore buys and experiences in Little India. The next two posts will be about China Town and the Singapore Zoo, so stay tuned.

If your interested in some of my other travel stories I have updated my Travel Adventures page. I have made some colourful tabs so you can click on them to find the posts that are associated with each country.

I have also added a Travel Series page with all my trips chronically ordered. From here you can select by the trip, to see all posts in that series.



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Vegan Ricotta and Veggie Lasagne

All this recent celebrating has left me feeling heavy and tired. It all started with Marco’s birthday Feast of the Seven Kingdoms, continued with Christmas, New Years and Serbian Christmas. All that delicious food was meat and dairy heavy, which are the two things that I don’t run well on. They were also not great for eating during the heat of summer. So as part of my New Years goals, I am going to start eating lighter. I still wanna enjoy my favourite homely dishes, but I need to modify them a little.

This lasagne is a quite light and guilt free. It has no dairy and is packed full of protein and flavour. Tofu has been used in place for real Ricotta. I adapted the ricotta recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Rockin Ricotta. The blend of ingredients doesn’t have that typical soy flavour. It tastes light and bright. There is no need for cheese substitutes either.

Feel free to make alterations to the lasagne sheets or vegetables. Gluten-free pasta can be used instead if semolina pasta doesn’t agree with you. Shredded carrot, shaved broccoli or baby spinach would all work nicely.

I made this dish for my daughter and her little cousin, who is seven. Octavia gladly gobbled it up because lasagne and tofu are her favourites. My niece, however, isn’t a big fan of tofu, but she still gave it a try. She was very happy with it. The only thing she complained about was the mushrooms, but since there weren’t many she agreed to eat them. I admit it’s not the prettiest lasagne, but if the kids liked it, mission accomplished.

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Hot Smoked Salmon and Ricotta Ravioli

As promised I have written for you today my recipe for Hot Smoked Salmon and Ricotta Ravioli. I prepared this dish for my family on New Year’s day, using my new Kitchen Aid attachments that I received for Christmas. I was lucky enough to get the Pasta Roller and Ravioli Roller from Santa, which I had been dreaming off for years.

I first used an electric pasta machine when I did a cooking class in Milan.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was and wished someday I would get my own. Since then I have been using a manual pasta machine, but I needed a second person to help me. Now I can do it all myself and lucky for little Octavia I can cook her favourite pasta anytime now.

For this recipe, I prepared the pasta from start to finish using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Pasta Roller and Ravioli Roller. If you don’t have these items, you can still prepare the pasta dough by hand, use a manual pasta machine to roll the pasta sheets out thin and then fill and cut the ravioli by hand. The ravioli attachment does give you some half-sized ravioli, that you wouldn’t have if doing completely by hand. I still cooked them since they are great for checking if your pasta is cooked through enough. In the KitchenAid Ravioli Roller booklet, it does recommend the setting to use with the Pasta attachment. I did go a bit thinner when I made my pasta sheets since I had already done a trial. The setting they recommended gave me ravioli that was so thick that the filling didn’t shine.

If your dairy free, you don’t need to use ricotta. In the future, I would probably use an alternative, as it doesn’t make much difference with for the filling. You just need something that will help make the salmon a little bit creamy when blending. If you don’t have eggs, you could always use soft tofu for the pasta dough. This is something I am yet to try but wouldn’t mind seeing how it turns out. I recommend the New Zealand  King smoked salmon fillet, which I bought from Aldi. Otherwise wild or organic smoked salmon filet would also be great. If you can’t get smoked you can always use good quality freeze or frozen salmon, which you could and cool in preparation.

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Srećan Božić: Merry (Serbian) Christmas

Today our family celebrated the Serbian Orthodox Christmas. It was held at my mother-in-laws home, where we were greeted with “Srećan Božić” and given 3 kisses on the cheeks.

Serbian Christmas held every year on the 7th of January. They follow this date from the Julian calendar, which was created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Other countries that are celebrating on 7th include Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Israel, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

I’m not Serbian and Marco has been here living in Australia since he was 7 years, so we are not informed about all the traditions. My inlaws lived in Serbia when it was a communist country as well so I’m not sure they follow the religious customs for this day. They did mention fasting on Christmas Eve, but that was it. It was wonderful to celebrate their Christmas with a delicious Serbian lunch and luckily this year the whole immediate family were able to attend.

We started the meal with chicken soup with vegetables and pasta. I think this is like a Domaća supa (domestic soup). This was followed Pogača (bread), which everyone has to grab at the same time and rip off a piece. This was accompanied by the roasted lamb, roasted potatoes, carrots and pumpkin; Serbian green salad,  and sarma (cabbage rolls). For desserts, we went a bit vegan. My sister-in-law made a Double Layered Chocolate Fudge Cake (linked photo last time I made it) from the Oh She Glows Cookbook. I made the Crispy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie from the Oh She Glows app (which I also made for my Christmas).

Do you celebrate Christmas on the 7th or on an alternative date?
What do you traditionally eat for Christmas?


Göteborg: a sunny afternoon

I thought I would have finished sharing this Euro Trip before the new year but only a couple more stops to go. After visiting the beautiful Swedish cities of MalmöYstadLund and Heisenberg, we spent one afternoon in Göteborg. This was not the first time we have visited Göteborg and we saw most of the sites last time. I will share the best of Göteborg in a future post.

We came to Göteborg to see Marco’s uncle. Unfortunately, he was unable to spend more time with us, but it was worth the trip to spend the afternoon with him. This was the first time Octavia had met him but she got along with him straight away, possibly because he looks so much like her grandfather.



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Weekend roundup of delicious eats

Over the past weekend and mid-week, we have been eating out quite a bit so I thought I’d share some of the photos and details of these delicious eats. These include some restaurants and cafes on the Gold Coast and in my hometown of Brisbane.

This roundup started from last weekend when we took a little break to the Gold Coast.  We stayed in two family hotels, at Sanctuary Cove and Benowa. We don’t normally do hotel crawls, but it was great fun to do. We got to experience two different places and give my toddler new surroundings to explore.


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10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 2# Grow something

Growing your own food and keeping indoor plants is quite rewarding. You nurture a little seedling and eventually, with the right care, it will pay you back in delicious produce or better air quality.

Many years ago I started my own small raised garden bed to grow fruit and vegetables in hope of producing my own organic food. Although I had some successes I also learned that some plants only live for a season and others can attract many exotic bugs that made my garden their home. Probably the most important lesson I learned is how much better my own produce tasted and how easy it can be too grown some staples.

When we bought our home we realised our soil was not the best, so again we set up raised garden beds, garden troughs a variety of potted dwarf fruit trees. Additionally, we added many potted indoor plants to liven up our home.

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10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 1# Composting

Over the past few years, we have made many changes in our home to be more eco-friendly. From the kitchen to the bedroom to baby care. I believe it’s important to modify our actions and behaviours so that we can to help the planet and make a healthier environment for everyone. Like our family, you can start making small changes that will have a big impact in the long term for your own health and your footprint on this earth.

I actually started writing this blog post a while ago, however it was getting really long. So I thought I would break it down for you into a series on 10 Simple ways to get greener. The first tip and one of the first changes we made, even before we even moved out of home, was to start Composting.

Composting your vegetable scraps is one of the easiest ways to help the planet and contribute less to landfill. You won’t believe how much less you throw out every week. Those veggie scraps and wastage that we usually throw out are still full of vitamins that can feed bugs, worms and the earth. Even if you don’t use the nutrient-rich compost for your garden, the food will keep breaking down and you can keep adding to it. I’m sure a neighbour or a friend would love to put your dirty gold to good use.

You can buy compost bins at any hardware, gardening or big superstore. There are a few different types of compost bins you can buy or make yourself. These include Enclosed Bins, Rolling Bins, Tumblers, Worm Bins. For more information on these or other alternatives see this article, Compost Bins by Planet Natural Research Center. If you live in an apartment building consider asking your body corporate to invest compost bins for all the tenants.



Most compost bins are really easy to set up and can be placed in your garden or in an out of sight grass area on your property. If you live in an apartment building consider asking your body corporate to invest compost bins for all the tenants. They are also pretty durable so you won’t be needing to replacing it under normal circumstances.

I first bought an Enclosed Bin from Bunnings when I set up my veggie patch.  However, I had a bit of trouble turning it. Later I bought a Tumbler from Aldi (nearly identical to this Tumbling Composter). This one has two sides, giving time for one side to break down, while we fill the other one. It’s unbelievable how quickly it turns to dust. Initially, I use to keep my scraps in a container on the kitchen bench before depositing them in the compost bin. Now I like to keep them in the fridge so that it doesn’t smell or attract fruit flies and household pests.

You may be wondering what you can and can’t compost. We have had lots of different advice from friends and family on this subject. One person, we know who grew up on a farm recommended composting cooked animal bones, but this one is a no-no.

Below I have listed some of the things you can and cannot compost. If in any doubt a quick google search from reliable websites will give you the answer.

What to add to a Compost Heap

  • Vegetable and food scraps
  • Fallen leaves (in layers)
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Soft stems
  • Dead flowers
  • Old potting mix
  • Used vegetable cooking oil
  • Egg shells (wash out the yolk)
  • Old newspapers (wet)
  • Grass cuttings in layers
  • Weeds
  • Sawdust (not from treated timber)
  • Wood ash
  • Human and animal hair

What not to add to a Compost Heap

  • Meat and dairy products
  • Diseased plants
  • Metals, plastic, glass
  • Animal manures, human and animal faeces
  • Fat
  • Magazines
  • Large branches
  • Weeds that have seeds or underground stems
  • Bread or cake
  • Bones
  • Sawdust from treated timber
  • Rice
  • Cooking oil
  • Heavily coated or printed paper
  • Used personal products (diapers, tampons)
  • Walnuts


Do you compost? What type do you recommend?

Do you see it having a positive impact on your life, your family and the earth?

Luino: a little piece of paradise

Luino is a charming northern Italian lake town with an amazing backdrop of blue skies and mountains. Luckily for me, the majority of my family live here. I have visited Luino a few times now and I never tire of it. It’s a very tranquil place and being able to live like an Italian rather than a tourist is also a bonus. Family dinners, leisurely walks and eating with the locals, made my experience so much more authentic.

Luino is in the province of Varese, which is situated on the Lago Maggiore and the Swiss-Italian border. The lake is the second largest in Italy and is separates Luino from the region of Piemonte. The town itself is quite hilly but the lakefront is flat. The town is well-known for its Mercato di Luino (Wednesday market), which attracts Italians, Swiss, Germans and Dutch.

Luino has become quite a popular tourist destination. I have noticed a lot of changes on the lakefront and many new restaurants. I tried a few while I was here and all were very good (see below). Luino is also very close to the border of Switzerland. We usually drive over the border for shopping trips, chocolates and to visit nearby cities. While we here this time we also visited Lugano and Bellinzona and in Switzerland and Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso and Giro del sole in Italy. I will share some photos and information in upcoming posts.


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Vegan Tuna Salad: 3 ways

Tuna is something I gave up long ago. I was wanting to avoid BPA, Mercury and was trying to follow a plant-based diet. Fast-forward a few years later and I still remember the delicious taste of tuna but it’s not so tempting anymore. I came up with this recipe a while back I found that it really fixes my tuna craving.

This mock tuna is primarily made with chickpeas and get’s its fishy taste from the umeboshi vinegar and nori. You can enjoy it in a salad, on a sandwich or wrap it in a nori roll.


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Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.


Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)


1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2