What’s been cooking in the Hotspotgy Kitchen: October

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It’s been a great first month over at Hotspotgy. I’ve been enjoying creating recipes that are simple, nutritious and filling. In case you missed any, hop over the the page and check it out!

Plantain, Blackeye & Barley Soup

Sweet Potato, Channa (Chickpea) & Broccoli Hash

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Blend

Honey Mustard Roasted Carrots & Onions

We have a lot of exciting things planned for the rest of the year and we can’t wait to share them with you. We’re always interested in hearing your thoughts on what we’ve posted and what you’d like to see, so email us at info@hotspotgy.com!

Have a wonderful weekend, a happy Halloween, and a great 1st of the best month in the year! [Spoiler Alert: It’s November :)]

Puppy Yoga, Energy Bites & Co-Hosting Fiesta Friday!

As I was doing the Lazy Gal’s training (mostly jumping jacks during TV commercials) for a hike I did a while back, some days I ended up exercising and even doing yoga in my backyard. My puppies would crowd around me and stare with their heads cocked to the side and their mouths open, and I could just see them thinking “what is this crazy lady doing?” They also used to try to run on the yoga mat when I was already on it, presumably to show me the right way to do downward dog. Nowadays they just play nearby but tend to join me if I decide to walk or take a jog around the yard. Puppy aerobics. What a serious endorphin booster.

Yes, that is my 8 year old iPod. It has served me well.

Yes, that is my 8 year old iPod. It has served me well.

Today I’m thrilled to be Co-hosting Angie’s Weekly Fiesta Friday Party with Judi over at Cooking with Aunt Juju. I hosted once before and it was so much fun that I couldn’t wait to do it again. Thanks Angie and thanks to all of you great bloggers who joined the party this week! Guys, now’s your chance to check out what everyone else brought to the party this week. You can check out the linkup here.

The recipe I’m sharing with you this week is quick, healthy and a great alternative to a standard granola bar, although in the past, I was been a huge fan of oats in anything but oatmeal. Yup, just your average uncomplicated gal over here. It’s a staple in my baking. I’ve actually taken to making overnight oats recently, so I pack that a few times a week for breakfast. I like oats so much that a good friend of mine (and a regular recipient of my baking) told me the other day “if you give me anything with oats again, I will throw it against a wall.” Lol. I get it. Food fatigue is a real thing. I’m pretty tired of Indian food and will only order it on occasion when I really crave it, or when I’m with people who love it. I can’t even cook Indian food properly. Remember my Channa Saag-ish? Yea.

Anyway, I challenged myself to make something without oats that was still healthy. Cue these energy bites.

4 Ingredient Energy Bites



1 cup Dates, pitted
1 cup dried Cranberries
1 cup Almonds
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds



Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread Almonds on a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Keep a close watch to ensure that nuts do not burn. Remove and let cool.

Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process on high for about 5-8 minutes, until all ingredients are sticky and have formed into a ball. It’ll take a bit of time, but trust me, it will form. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper to about 1/2 inch thickness. Place in fridge for about 30 mins to an hour. Remove and cut into squares. Store in fridge.

So check out some the awesome things that my Fiesta Friday friends brought to the party. My blog buddies are so cool :). Have a great rest of the weekend!

I’ll Cook, You Wash & Hotspotgy.com!

Now that the travel series is over, I don’t know what to talk about. Just kidding! I always have something to talk about. Maybe its a good thing that I have a blog because I’d have all these words and stories stored up and would unleash them on friends and family until one by one, my phone number would start ‘disappearing’ from their phones. Crazy newfangled technology.

I tried not to inject my daily life into the travel posts, so I have about 3 months to catch you up on. I kind of want to do a TV-style voiceover saying “previously, on I’ll Cook, You Wash…” with a montage of scenes from the last 3 months.

My most exciting announcement today is that I’m now officially a member of the fantastic Hotspotgy.com Team – I’m the Creative Director for the newly launched Food & Drink page of the website! If you’re Guyanese, I’m sure you’ve already heard of Hotspotgy – it’s one of the premier entertainment websites in Guyana, promoting & covering popular local social events like parties, cocktails, openings, etc. Hotspotgy will now be expanding their brand and I’m so excited and proud to be a part of it.

My first recipe is a hearty Plantain, Black Eyed Pea & Barley Soup. Head over to the site and check it out!

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The Swiss Alps, Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate & The End

I’m in crazy, stupid, love with Chamonix. Like, head-over-heels, #takemeback, sing-out-loud-when-I-think-about-it, if-I-went-to-a-therapist-and-he-said-go-to-your-happy-place-this-would-be-it kinda love. If I ever disappear to ‘find myself’, it’ll likely be because I succumbed to that popular hipster quote superimposed on filtered pictures that say ‘the mountains are calling and I must go’. If I had to choose anywhere in the world to live, it would be near a mountain. I cannot stress how much snow-capped mountains enchant me. Climbing Everest isn’t a realistic bucket list dream for me (especially after having seen the Everest movie recently), but living in view of a mountain is.



Although I pretty much relied on my friend to plan the week of visits (Nice, Monaco, Marseille, Geneva, Yvoire, Eze), the only place I insisted on was Chamonix. I badly wanted to go to the Swiss Alps. She came through brilliantly although she suffered from sinus issues for days because of the height that we got to so quickly. Sorry Nads :(


Chamonix totally ties with Rome as the best place I’ve ever been to. It’s a landscape of the indescribably beautiful Mont Blanc Mountain Range, part of the Swiss Alps, with the quaintest mountain town at it’s base. You board the Aiguille de Midi cable car and ascend into the heavens, seeing the endearing, postcard-type town of Chamonix slowly retreat below your feet. You glide higher and higher and the lush green hills and sounds of life slowly fall away as your world becomes whiter and greyer and bluer and quieter. You’ll even begin to speak in reverent, hushed whispers without even realizing it. At 3842 feet, you’ll disembark and immediately be enveloped in impossible silence. You’ll look around in awe, and you’ll actively have to work to distinguish between the clouds and the snow. The mountain peaks are at your eye level, and you’re actually looking over the clouds. It is a humbling experience.




This was one of my earlier trips, so I was in full tourist mode at this point. We had lunch in the mountains – cheeses and mushrooms and bread and salad pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette and chocolate molten lava cake and wine. I was seriously living the dream.

When I think about snow, my mind immediately switches to ski lodges and hot beverages. To be perfectly honest, I’m a huge fan of hot beverages, regardless of weather. I live in a tropical country but most of the time, all I want is a nice cup of tea or coffee. Hot chocolate is rarely a choice for me in regular circumstances, but for some reason, but when you’re in the mountains (or imagining yourself in the mountains!), it just fits, right? Pair that with Uggs and a big sweater and you might even call me a basic b*tch. I don’t even care.

The hot chocolate I’m sharing with you today is incredibly indulgent. It’s like birthday cake or cheesecake, or an ice cold glass of coke. It’s sugary and sweet and hits all the good spots, but drink more than a cup (or eat more than a slice) and you might as well put on your workout clothes while you’re drinking it. I added peanut butter because that nutty, warm, earthy flavour pairs so well with chocolate. Rab didn’t even notice the peanut butter in it, but I thought that it was the first thing you tasted. Ah well. I guess that means you can add even more peanut butter if you’d like.

Indulgent Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cup Milk
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp smooth Peanut Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
Pinch of Espresso Powder (optional)
Mini Marshmallows (optional)

Pour milk into a small pot. On low heat, add ingredients and whisk all ingredients until combined. Heat to desired temperature. Top with marshmallows if desired.

I’m linking up over at Fiesta Friday today and A Dish of Daily Life.

So this is the end of my Travel Series. It was great reliving the experience through food, memories and pictures. I hope I wasn’t too maudlin or too over the top, but it was a great trip and thanks again to the friends & family that I met along the way. Now that the series has ended, I have a pretty big (blog related!) announcement to make in my next post. I’m still finalizing a few things, but suffice it to say that I’m thrilled at the direction that my writing and my Company (MCreative) is heading. Have a fantastic weekend, enjoy the return of all your favourite TV shows, and OMG how is it October already?!

Yvoire, Almond Crepes & Bonding

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Yvoire is the kind of place you want to visit with a good friend. You’ll navigate through the charmingly uneven cobblestoned and perfectly paved streets of this medieval village, stop for a double scoop of ice cream at 10:00 a.m, discuss the best location of the tables at your hypothetical wedding reception to ensure maximum sea view, and in lieu of making lunch reservations, you’ll spent about 40 minutes wandering from full restaurant to full restaurant, looking increasingly pathetic and hoping that some kindly restaurateur will let you spend your money there. You’ll eventually walk confidently into a restaurant and sit like you’re supposed to be there, order a bottle of wine and proceed to while away the hours bonding over every topic under the sun.




Yvoire is the quintessential French village – it overlooks the crystal blue sea and stone buildings make you want to bust into a rendition of any song from Beauty and the Beast. I may or may not have looked for Gaston (he’s roughly the size of a barge). It also helps that Yvoire has been classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. I think that it would be lovely to live in a postcard town like this. I’d manage a small café and spend my days meeting new people, pouring copious amounts of coffee, inhaling chestnut paste smeared on freshly baked croissants, stumbling upon chateaus and finding nooks where I could read Sartre, Zola and Hugo. I’m also fluent in French in this fantasy and clearly kind of a douche.



But then reality steps in and I realize that I sometimes dislike talking to people, chestnut paste is nice but not food marriage material, and I‘m really not that into classic literature. Plus I don’t speak French. Ah well. I still know all the lyrics (and ok – lines as well) from Beauty and the Beast. Another unfortunate reality? Yvoire’s famous dish, Lake Perch & French Fries, isn’t that great. A little too saltless for this salt loving gal.

Visiting the Garden of the 5 Senses was a memorable experience although I’ll admit – I got a little mad. The concept of the Garden is that the type of the plants encourage you to use all 5 senses to truly enjoy the experience – but isn’t that the purpose of all gardens? Clever marketing, but when you think about it, any place can do that. Are you reading this, Guyana Tourism Authority?

What sense do I tickle next?

What sense do I tickle next?

I’ve always turned down the opportunity to eat a crepe for some reason. It happened again in Yvoire (see aforementioned ice cream break above), but I decided to give crepes their due this time. I chose a simple recipe from Alton Brown, but added Almond extract because almonds in every form are the fricking bomb.

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I’ve never been good at making perfectly shaped pancakes, and I realized too late that the pan that I was using was a little too large to get that lovely round shape. My first few crepes ended up looking like a pokemon, and it got so addictive that eventually I embraced it and tried to catch ’em all.

Pikachu? Jigglypuff?

Pikachu? Jigglypuff?

Almond Crepes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 Eggs
3/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Flour
1 tsp Almond Extract
3 tablespoons Butter, melted
Butter, for coating the pan

Toasted Slivered Almonds
Powdered Sugar


Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 10-15 seconds. Place in fridge for at least an hour (this is supposed to minimized tearing of crepes during cooking). Heat a small pan on medium heat and coat pan with butter. Pour 1/8 cup of batter into pan and swirl around to distribute evenly. Let cook for about 30 seconds, then flip and cook for another 10-15 seconds.

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Remove from heat, add desired toppings and enjoy!

NB: According to Alton Brown, you can keep the batter in your fridge for up to 48 hours. Pretty cool for a Saturday or Sunday morning quick and fancy breakfast!

Linking up with Angie and the gals at Fiesta Friday this week, as well as Michelle over at A Dish of Daily Life.

See you back here next week for my last travel post! Who knows, I might even post it this week! i’m crazy like that :)

Marseille, Romance & Lazy Bouillabaisse

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Marseille feels like such a romantic place. The beauty, the personality, the grittiness of the city all make you feel like this is a place you could fall in love with. To be honest, it crept up on me. It wasn’t my favourite city when we got there, but the more I think back about it, the more I realize what depth the city has. There’s the Vieux Port (Old Port) with a London-Eye type ferris wheel, restaurant daily specials are determined by whatever the catch of the day is, and if you need directions, you either go ‘to the left’ or ‘to the right’ of the Port. The city’s Notre Dame Church overlooks the town, quietly and peacefully illuminated at night so wherever you are, you can always look up and see that beacon. It comforts you somehow. There are the Calanques that transport you to another world, a simple cross erected along the coast, meant to protect the fishermen that sail out every morning and return them safely to land. From land, you can just make out the Chateau d’If, a real prison that features in the fictional novel, the Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexander Dumas. How can you not fall in love with the world?



By far the best part of Marseille is the ocean and what lies in it. I had never head of the Calanques until the day we went to the ticket booth and bought the tickets, but seeing them was the best surprise destination of the trip – Being on the boat, navigating through narrow turquoise channels, seeing these formations rise out of the water looking like they came from Middle Earth or some Game of Thrones type land – I felt like a true adventurer, that anything was possible. My heart felt like it was floating. I half expected to see Jon Snow mingling with the sunbathers that dotted the various Calanques.



Because Marseille restaurants have the “we close at 10 and reopen at 12” habit, we spent the morning drinking coffee and beer and waiting for lunch. We even stumbled upon the Galeries Lafayette (a fantastic supermarket), where I had a nervous breakdown over the amount of vinegar, truffle oils, mustard (moutarde!) and finishing salts. I also fell in love with a French Adrien Brody lookalike who had better hair and a scarf that made me want to love him for infinity (get it?). I stepped up to peer between the line of people to attempt to decipher the French menu and he was ordering, but stopped to look at me charmingly and let me order ahead oh him. He also didn’t laugh when I ordered my food in slow and stilted French. Points to you, you handsome thing.

Is there a cart big enough to fit everything?

I’ll take one of each, please. Merci.

I left Marseille for one of the last recipes because: Bouillabaisse. Yes, I want to try it but I’m not good at cooking fish and if something is even slightly fishy it turns me off, so it’s very thin line to walk. After my disaster in Nice (the seafood Fruits la Mer), I was worried that I’d ruin the bouillabaisse. Plus it calls for fennel, the licorice tasting seed that I’m not a fan of. Plus I don’t have a saffron fund (that is one expensive spice!).  So I really didn’t want to put that much effort into doing something there was a good chance I’d dislike. But… “let’s challenge myself” and all that. Sometimes present me gets so mad at past me. And past me never thinks about future me’s feelings. Sigh. Those crazy b*tches need to work it out.

I struck a compromise among the ‘me-s’ and decided to try Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse with some amount of changes. Her full recipe is available here if you want to be better than me. Lol.

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My lazy recipe is below:

Lazy Bouillabaisse

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


For the Fish Soup Base:
1 3/4 cups minced onion
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic (mashed)
1 pound tomatoes (roughly chopped)
10 cups Water
6 fresh sprigs Parsley
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1/8 teaspoon fennel
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Salt

For the Bouillabaisse:

1 package Seafood Mix (Shrimp, Squid, Scallops, etc)
1/3 cup fresh Parsley (roughly chopped)

For the Rouille:

1/3 cup chopped Red Bell Pepper (simmered for several minutes in salted water and drained)
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 medium Potato (pierced a few times with a fork and cooked in the soup)
4 cloves minced Garlic
1 tsp dried Basil
5 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp hot Soup


Warm olive oil in a stockpot and add onions. Stir to coat. On medium heat, cook onions for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic & tomatoes and let cook for another 3 minutes. Add water, spices & herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep a steady simmer and let cook for between 30-40 minutes. Remember to add the potato about halfway through. Remove potato and strain broth. Make sure to press the juices out of the solids.

While the Bouillabaisse is simmering, prep the ingredients for the rouille. Cook the red pepper in salted water for 5- 7 minutes, then drain. Add the ingredients to a food processor and when the broth is done, add the potato and soup to processor. Blend thoroughly.

Before you’re ready to eat, bring the broth to a boil and add the seafood mix to the broth. Let cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately with rouille.

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Result: Fantastic frickin’ broth and rouille. Forget the seafood, throw veggies and the rouille in it and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal. If you really love your seafood then it’s still a good meal, just don’t overcook the seafood in the broth. Also, although I didn’t add fish, I think that a fillet would have flaked and melted into the soup nicely.

I’m also linking up at Fiesta Friday today, visiting Angie and the gals, including this week’s co-hosts, Kaila @ GF Lfe 24/7 & Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes!


Blueberry Almond Granola & Emergency Snack Preparedness

I’m taking a break from my travel posts today to talk about a very important snack: Granola. Nuts.com has an ongoing healthy snacking campaign and I’m excited to be a part of it by sharing a recipe and giving others snacking inspiration. When I think about a healthy breakfast or a snack, my mind always hops over to Granola-ville. I’ve always considered it to be the first “adult” food I ever started liking, and it’s a staple in my diet up to today.

Hazelnut Coconut Granola & Blueberry Almond Granola

Hazelnut Coconut Granola & Blueberry Almond Granola

I started my lifelong affair with Granola after I first tasted Chewy Bars made by Quaker Oats. In my mind, I still have to call them “Chewy Tendre” because the boxes that we used to get had the French “tendre” right underneath in the same size font so it looked like it was one phrase. I later moved to Alpen, Nature Valley and Kind with the occasional Luna or Clif Bar. When I got married and embraced cooking and domesticity, I found out about the extent of sugar and random ingredients that go into making one granola bar. It’s insane, and some popular granola bars have had it on lists for products with the highest sugar content. Suffice it to say that when I came across the concept of making my own bars, I was more than intrigued. I thought it sounded incredibly cool and hippie which to be honest, added to the appeal :) I am absolutely amazed at the different granola bar variations out there. I personally have made dozens of variations, used dozens of ingredients and have made granola in squares, rectangles, clumps, loose, and they’ve all been delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever met a granola recipe that I didn’t like.

Making your own granola is quick and simple and easily customized. I’ve used so many different combinations of ingredients and I have never taken more than about 15 minutes (excluding baking) any time. Imagine that – 15 minutes (no I’m not gonna save you 15% or more on car insurance) is all it takes to make breakfast for the week! Or snacks that help you stick to your diet or healthy eating plan! I honestly think that the achilles heel of any diet is the snacks. You spend so much time focusing on eating your healthy or well portioned meals, and forget that at 2:30 when you want a cup of coffee, you want a snack to go with it. And thus comes a defining moment in your diet – fight to eat healthy or flight to the corner cafe to stuff your face with cupcakes? Failing to plan your snacks means that you’re one brownie or cookie away from ruining your diet. Which I often do. We’re all human.

Another benefit is that you can hide so many different ingredients in granola, including those that you know are superfoods but don’t want to or like to eat by itself. You can add so many ingredients and have so many variations – Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Macadamia, Hazelnuts, Chia Seeds, Ground Flaxseed, Shredded / Flaked Coconut, Chocolate Chips, White chocolate chips, Dark chocolate chips, Peppermint chips, Butterscotch chips, Dried Cranberries, Apricots, Blueberries, Raisins, Currants, Goji Berries, Acai Berries, Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Lemon Extract, Mint Extract, Pine Extract, Protein Powder, Matcha Green Tea Powder, Espresso Powder, and Ginger Powder. This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

It’s not unusual for me to find bags of crushed and unrecognizable snacks in my purse with no recollection of when or how they got there. I seem to have a squirrel mentality…gotta store up those snacks in the inevitable event that I get hungry and mad and can’t concentrate on anything else until I eat! Finally figuring out that I should keep an emergency snack drawer at work was one of my greatest revelations. Up to a few years ago I had a pretty awesome emergency snack drawer at work, but in recent years my drawer deteriorated to a pathetic corner of the top drawer of my desk. I’ve been trying to rectify that, and the granola recipe I’m sharing with you today is item #1 in my new and improved snack drawer.

This granola isn’t too sweet, so it doesn’t feel like dessert, but it doesn’t feel like a tasteless blend of ingredients either.

Blueberry Almond Granola

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

My right hand man. Food. And Coffee.

My right hand men: food and coffee.


2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup whole Almonds
1 cup Sunflower Seeds
2/3 cups Dried Blueberries
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Agave (or Honey)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp dried Vanilla (or liquid vanilla extract)
1/4 cup Coconut Oil


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix dried ingredients in a bowl. Add agave, vanilla (if using extract) & oil. Mix well. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly on tray. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes. Let cool and harden and store in an airtight container.

So check out Nuts.com for other snacking ideas and ingredients. Give this granola a try this weekend and start next week off right!