Baking Cookies for Beginners

Decorating cookies is an art that needs a lot of practice and knowledge about the ingredients used. If you don’t want to go through the messy trial and error process, here are tips for decorating cookies.

Start with the simplest design. Even with a recipe, sometimes you need to know how to estimate the ingredients needed to get the color and consistency right. That is why you should practice with simple designs first to hone your basic skills.

Plan your designs. All designs, even food decoration, go through a certain process. The most important of which is planning how many cookies you need to make, what texture to work on, what colors you need, and other decorations. If you need to sketch a design, do so. You should also list down everything you need to avoid forgetting ingredients.

Freeze the cookies before baking. To make sure that your cookies retain their shape after baking, and make decorating easier as a result, you should place the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for at least five minutes.

Be mindful of the thickness of the dough. Do not make your cookies too thin because that will make decorating trickier. Thinner dough results in uneven surfaces and inconsistent shape with your cookies. You might end up using more or less of the icing than what is written on the recipe.

Use a craft knife to remove bumps. Before you start decorating, make sure that the cookie surface is flat. You can sand or scrape the bumps using a craft knife or scalpel.

Practice placing icing without piping. Piping takes a lot of practice to get right even if it looks convenient. There are other ways to add seamless icing without it if you can make a stiff icing consistency.

Use food markers. One way to make designing easier is to utilize edible food markers. This is less messy than piping the design because you are sure you’re getting the correct shape and color. If you want to use other designs, you should also look for dried icing stamps.

Insert a pin when piping isn’t used. To avoid the getting a crusty icing on the tip of the piping, insert a pin into the tip. It can even be used to remove air bubbles by tapping it gently on the surface.

Remember that icing darkens when it’s dry. To achieve the same consistency and color in all your cookie designs, you need to use more than one batch of the same color. Sometimes what is written on the recipe might not be enough to decorate all cookies. You need to make more than what you think you need just in case.

Work by batches. If you need to decorate a lot of cookies, it would be less messy if you work by color. That way, you do not need to change the icing in the piping frequently.

How to Stay Healthy With Your Partner

If you haven’t already noticed, couples tend to adopt each other’s health and eating habits. Some like to go to the gym together and others like to eat a lot together as well. So for better or for worse, you will most likely have similar health choices with your partner. If you’re starting to go to the unhealthy side of the spectrum though, there’s no need to worry! Here are some tips to help you live healthy together.

Show your partner the benefits

One of the best ways to start is to show your partner the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle Whether he eats junk food and fast food all day or he doesn’t really care if he’s eating right or not, start by highlighting the positive impact of simply being healthy.

If he starts to get sick often, has difficulty sleeping, or feels exhausted all the time, show him how he can change all that by starting to live a better lifestyle. By then, your partner should already be convinced!

Make the transition smooth

If you and your partner have little to no experience with healthy choices, don’t turn your life around in an instant. You really don’t have to make changes overnight. Let’s say you eat junk food between breakfast and lunch, and also between lunch and dinner.

What you can do is substitute the junk food for fruits during your breakfast-lunch snack and then limit your junk food intake in the afternoon. After a week, you can start eating fruits for both snack times and completely eliminate your junk food intake. 

Cook and eat at home

First of all, you’re more likely to eat healthier when you’re cooking at home. You can basically control the portion sizes of each dish and you also know what ingredients have been used. Again, you won’t have to make big changes here too.

You can start, for example, by simple adding more vegetables or healthier ingredients to meals that you already know how to cook. Remember, you don’t need to learn a whole new recipe just so you can eat healthy! When you’re at home, remember to always eat at the dining table as well. If you eat in front of the TV, you might get distracted and eat more than necessary.

Be exercise buddies

No “healthy living” list would be complete without making exercise a point. Go for a jog in some park around Singapore, lift weights together in an ActiveSG gym, do sports, and etc. There are a lot of physical activities you can do out there and rest assured each one will be more fun with a partner. Plus, if you become exercise buddies, you can be responsible for each other’s progress and motivate each other a lot better.

4 Meatball Recipes for Kids

Are your kids fond of meatballs? Here are fun new ways that put a twist in the classic meatball recipe.

Cheesy Meatballs

Ingredients: 500 grams minced beef, 1 grated brown onion, 1 peeled and grated carrot, 1 trimmed and grated zucchini, ¼ cup tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, 1 cup grated light cheddar, ¼ cup plain flour, ¾ cup dried multigrain breadcrumbs, and 2 teaspoons canola oil

Preparation: In a bowl, combine beef with carrot, onion, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, flour, cheddar, and zucchini. Form mixture into small balls and roll each on the breadcrumbs, making sure each ball is evenly-coated. Arrange them on a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When ready, fry meatballs over medium heat until golden brown.

Meat and Veggie Meatballs

Ingredients: 1 pound ground beef, ½ cup parsley leaves, ½ cup carrots, ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1 peeled and halved onion, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons milk, and ½ teaspoon salt

Preparation: Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with foil and coat with spray. In a food processor, combine carrots, parsley, and onion. Add beef, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, and salt. Process until mixture looks smooth. Form mixture into small meatballs and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes and serve with your choice of pasta and sauce.

Turkey and Zucchini Meatballs

Ingredients: 2 pounds ground turkey, 2 cups grated zucchini, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 grated red onion, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Sauce Ingredients: ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Strain and press zucchini until dry, then combine with ground turkey, garlic, eggs, olive oil, onion, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Mix until well-combined then form into small balls.

Arrange them on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, create a sauce by sautéing garlic over medium heat. After 1 minute, stir in sugar, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and crushed tomatoes. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cooked meatballs and coat evenly before serving.

Italian Meatballs

Ingredients: 1 pound ground beef or bison, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 1/3 teaspoons onion powder, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 cup spinach or kale, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 2 ounces shredded parmesan cheese

Preparation: Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or in a bowl using your hands. Next, roll mixture into small balls and place in cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta and sauce.

12 Best Stealth Games of All Time

Patience is quite short among modern gamers these days who are spoiled with overpowered characters and fast-paced action. Some of the best titles, however, belong in the stealth genre which requires patience, timing, and planning.

If you want a change of pace, try one of these awesome titles.

Dishonored (2012)

What would you do if you have been accused of a murder you haven’t committed? That’s exactly what happened to Corvo Attano who was the bodyguard of the woman he supposedly murdered. Now he’s looking for the people who set him up using his unique abilities.

Mark of the Ninja (2012)

If you love platforming, you will fall in love with this game. Playing as a student of a famous ninja named Azai, you must rescue the mentor and battle against a corporation and its plutocrat.

Thief (2014)

If you have played the original series, this revival of Thief will enjoy more adventures with Garrett, whose goal is to steal from the rich. You’ll also get to experience again the dark gothic Victorian setting.

Deus Ex (2000)

Anyone who is a fan of the Metal Gear series will surely enjoy this indie title that gives the player free reign on how to clear levels without being detected by enemies. It is also heavily inspired by the Robin Hood tales.

Volume (2015)

If you have been given nanotechnology to augment your abilities like JC Denton has, you would probably think you don’t need stealth to accomplish your goals. The beauty of the game, however, is giving the player the different possibilities to play the game.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)

Sam Fisher is back with this third installment of the series inspired by the novels by Tom Clancy. What separates it from the previous titles is that there are more ways to play the game through combat options and new stealth mechanics.

Styx: Shards of Darkness (2017)

This is the third installment in the Of Orcs and Men series. It features Styx who has the useful ability to make copies of himself to defeat enemies. The goal is to determine the cause for the unusual alliance of the dwarves and dark elves.

Aragami (2016)

Not only is Aragami a skilled assassin but he is also gifted with teleportation. His goal is to free the Shadow Empress and her retainers by finding all the six talismans.

Syphon Filter (1999)

This game introduces Gabe Logan and Lian Xing who must track a group of terrorists. It will remind you of old spy movies.

Echo (2017)

Another notable indie game, Echo introduces the players to En, who is battling creatures called echoes. What makes this game unique is that it remembers all the actions done by the player so that the enemies can also perform the same.

Metal Gear Solid (1987)

If you haven’t played at least one of the several games in this series, maybe you shouldn’t even be reading this list. The title comes from the superweapon that looks like a humanoid tank.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (2002)

If you loved the first game, you should get your hands on this one as it allows more options for Agent 47 to accomplish his missions.

Reasons to Consider Using Dating Apps

For a time, online dating apps were the talk of the town, not only in Singapore but all around the world. These days though, a lot of people are starting to bat an eye on online dating. So are there still reasons for you to try it out? The answer is, yes! Read on to see why.

1.  It’s fun!

One of the reasons why online dating apps became popular was that they provided a fresh take on finding a partner. It’s generally a fun and interactive way to meet people, without even meeting them at first, if that makes sense. Many people still find it entertaining that you can just “swipe left” if you’re not interested in the other person and vice versa.

2.  You can meet unexpected people

Another fun aspect of online dating is that you have the chance to meet people you’d never have imagined meeting. Most apps connect you locally to other people near you even if you don’t them at all. This is simply a great way to meet different kinds of people. You never know, your future partner might actually be someone you don’t even expect!

3.  It’s generally convenient

Online dating apps are made to be quick and convenient. You can just add a description of yourself and wait for people to swipe you right. It also gives you the ability to just ignore those who you don’t think are a good match for you. Compared to meeting a complete stranger on a first date, you’ll at least know that you already have similarities with someone you meet in a dating app.

4.  You can easily see who you’re compatible with

Consider this example. Your friend says he’ll hook you up with someone he knows. Aside from the fact that your friend knows the other person, you’re still strangers to each other. That means you don’t know if you’ll like this person or not. If you see each other on your first date, there’s still a 50-50 chance that you won’t like each other. With dating apps, you can at least be confident that you’ll like the person. You’ve swiped right for him/her anyway.

5.  There are a lot of people using it

Even though we said that people are batting an eye on dating apps, it certainly does not mean that no one is doing it anymore. As said earlier, you’ll have the opportunity to meet different kinds of people through a dating app. It’s still a trendy way to meet potential partners. That, in itself, sparks curiosity for many people as well. And there’s really nothing wrong with trying it these days. You’ll never really know who you’ll meet and how great your chances are of actually finding love!

6 Amazing Benefits of Fish Oil

Fish oil has become one of the most consumed supplements over the years. That being said, it’s not that hard to find one in Singapore as well. It’s generally taken to fulfill our body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids. People who take fish oil supplements are those who are not able to eat a lot of oily fish each week. Even so, there are still many people who don’t know about the many benefits of fish oil. Here are some of those benefits.

It greatly improves heart health

Although there’s no guarantee that it will completely prevent strokes or heart attacks, fish oil has been observed to help reduce the risks and factors that may lead to heart disease. Consumption of fish oil has been linked to lower triglycerides (fat in the blood), higher levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, and the prevention of plaque build-up in the arteries.

It also benefits our mental health

Fish oil has also been observed to help fight cognitive decline, prevent or delay certain mental disorders, and even reduce symptoms of depression. Many small studies have reported that fish oil may actually help promote memory in older adults. Fish oil, being a good source of EPA, is also a possible reason why it helps reduce symptoms of depression.

It can also keep your bones stronger

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to have many positive effects on our bones. So, aside from calcium and vitamin D, it would also be a good idea to have omega-3 fatty acids in your diet if you want to strengthen your bones. This is even more important because our bones will naturally get weaker as we age. This not only helps against brittle bones but also reduces the risk of bone diseases as well.

It helps fight chronic inflammation

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful disease that causes inflammation in the joints. Studies have found that taking fish oil can actually help fight this disease since the omega-3 fatty acids generally have anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil is also said to be effective at reducing joint pain even in the long-term.

It can aid in the growth and development of a baby

Fish oil is also recommended for pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding. This is because omega-3 is very important for children’s development. It’s also been found that if a mother takes fish oil regularly, there will be a reduced risk of allergies in the child.

Take note…

Always remember that just like anything we include in our diets, it’s best to take it moderately. Of course, fish oil might have negative effects if taken excessively. If you want to be more secure, make sure you consult your doctor first.

10 Best Books About WW1 and WW2

Technology and techniques have improved over the centuries, but war never changes and that is why it still fascinates a lot of people today. Here are the best books about wars you need to add to your reading list.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

The book was published a few years after the end of the First World War and is written by a German veteran, which makes it a unique perspective on the war and its effects on the soldiers.

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (1962)

Whereas most books about the World Wars focus on specific battles and areas, this book details the beginning of the conflicts and political ideologies that led to World War 1 up to the German invasion of France.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (1999)

As the title suggests, the book details the events leading to the battle in Stalingrad and the surrounding areas. Operation Barbarossa was the Nazis’ idea to occupy Soviet Union and to control the Caucasus region for oil and agriculture.

World War One in Southeast Asia by Heather Streets-Salter (2017)

Most of Southeast Asia was still under colonial rule in the first World War, but the aftermath of the fighting in Europe influenced the economic, social, and political climates of the colonies.

Maus by Art Spiegelman (1980-1991)

This graphic art novel retells the author’s survival of the massacre of the Polish Jews by the Nazis. The story begins with a recollection of the liberation of the concentration camps.

Empires of War: A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II by Francis Pike (2009)

The effects of WW1 and WW2 in Asia is still felt especially with the Western-centric point of view of their so-called liberators.

Forgotten Armies: Britain’s Asian Empire and the War with Japan by Christopher Alan Bayly and Tim Harper (2005)

The British empire’s colonies in Asia which spanned areas between India and Singapore were strategic areas that could have helped Germany and its allies in their cause. In a matter of weeks, South and Southeast Asia was placed under the yoke of the Japanese forces.

The First World War in Africa by Hew Strachan (2004)

The First World War did not just affect Europe, but colonies in Africa were also important battlefields that do not get enough attention in history books.

The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918 by Byron Farwell (1989)

The book recounts the conflicts in the African front, specifically in the German colonies besieged by attackers. The writer himself was a veteran of the Second World War.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (1971)

The book recounts what life was like for the ten Boom family right up to the invasion of the Netherlands by the Nazis in 1940. The author became instrumental in black market operations to help Jews escape from the enemy.