The Tiniest Asparagus

Hello! Lately, my agenda has been full of exciting activities. This week is O-Fest, which means there are plenty of introductory sessions that welcome students to the University of Queensland. Next week, it is CONNECT Week, so there are free fitness sessions and other activities designed to help students find friends with common interests. You can see my trusty planner (a kind gift from my sister, Seline) along with my morning cheddar scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Also, my laptop stand is truly a gift!

I got to see some cool animals. Check out this dwarf crocodile, which is ten years old, and this male owl. I had the opportunity to pet both of them, and they are really cute. This was organized by the QUEST Society at UQ. QUEST stands for the Queensland University Exchange Student Society.

The UQ campus is really beautiful, complete with museums (art, geology, and more), a Great Court, and so much more. I love it. Even though I get lost on an hourly basis.

There’s a grocery store called Fruity Capers in the local mall, and they sell the most amazing little vegetables I’ve ever seen. Check out these teeny tiny asparagus, which were about the length of my wrist to fingertips. They are so cute, and cooked in a minute. I put them in my scrambled eggs, which you can see below. I like these tiny asparagus more than large (regular?) asparagus, because they don’t have stalky ends and cook much quicker.

Another afternoon, I happened to pass a place called Noosa Chocolate Factory. They are famous for a massive selection single origin, single plantation & blended slabs delivered fresh daily from the Noosa Chocolate Factory, fine specialty coffee, and rustic hot chocolates. Of course, I had to try one of their renowned drinks! The 35-degree temperature, however, gave me the opportunity to try their iced chocolate drink. This one, which was 56% cocoa, was sweet-but-not-overly-sweet, icy, and had such a rich chocolate taste. No phony stuff here!

In other words, I’m in love. Can I live here? And eat chocolate for the rest of my semester?

Afterwards, I went for a little stroll around this lovely area of Brisbane. There were plenty of souvenir shops, and I loved looking at the lit-up bridges as I walked down the river.

At this grocery store, there are always fresh fruit samples. Next time, I want to try their homemade banana bread! Banana bread is, and always will be, one of my weaknesses. I just want to toast it up and smother it all in peanut butter.

On Friday, I had a day off! No orientation events, no classes, no commitments, nothing. The day before, I created a detailed plan of activities and events that I wanted to attend, but when Friday rolled around, I was so tired (and hot!) that I didn’t want to do anything. I ended up relaxing at home, cooking, and spending time in the downtown area.

IMG_6258

More eats:

  • 2 plates of buffet food: coleslaw, pasta salad, goat cheese spinach salad, melon, cheese, carrots, gratin potatoes, omelet with squash, onion, vegetables, roasted squash and sweet potatoes, crispy fried pita bread (a wonderful Chinese New Year feast with my landlord’s family)

  • breakfast on the bottom right:
    • 2 scrambled eggs with broccoli, cheddar and gruyere
    • vanilla Greek yogurt with 1/2 container blueberries, 1/3 packet pecan butter

I spent the next day strolling around one of my favourite parts of the city, and had the opportunity to visit Morning After Cafe. My dish was absolutely spectacular, and I added halloumi on the side. I’m in love with halloumi!

  • red pepper, eggplant, and onion sauté, cucumber with labneh and dill, fried egg, halloumi, paprika oil

Dessert at Gelato Messina was quite eventful. Their menu was enormous, and you can get three scoops of three flavours in one cup. How could I resist that? After sampling a few, I decided on:

  • 1 scoop pistachio praline, 1 scoop white chocolate hazelnut, 1 scoop milk chocolate peanut butter fudge gelato

All together in a large-sized cup, this dessert was an absolute dream. To be honest, the flavours were on the sweeter side (thanks to the white chocolate, praline, and fudge), and I would’ve preferred the sweetness to be dialled down a little. Nonetheless, delicious!

Few things from recently:

  • This beautiful post by Bucket List Tummy discusses reasons why one should never diet, and is worded in such a clear, inspiring, beautiful way.
  • One of my favourite pairs figure skating teams (Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany) won the event. I was super happy because their performance was flawless, and this was Aliona’s fifth and final Olympics. Are you following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea? Which events are you interested in?
  • 56 different names for sugar – interesting!

That is pretty much all I have for today. I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

Baking Blizzard

Hey!

Yesterday, I found an old USB with plenty of old photos on it. I found pictures of myself skating and doing aerial silks way back in 2012 or 2013. I can’t believe that was really 4-5 years ago.

I’ve made banana waffles for the last three days, and I might create another batch today. I love these, made with 1/2 a ripe banana, an egg, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, a splash of milk, and just enough all-purpose flour and almond flour to thicken the batter. On the side, I love this creamy honey Greek yogurt with blackberries.

We have an empty room in our house that I am stealing as a study room.

With some brand-new markers from Staples (thanks, Mom!)…

and all of my study materials, this desk makes me want to study!

Yesterday afternoon, Mom and I spent some time baking. One of our first projects was this chocolate banana bread. I adore this recipe because it’s egg-free and maintains plenty of moisture thanks to applesauce, rather than butter or oil. Mom bought brand-new cocoa powder, which explains the darker colour of these guys.

These chocolate squares are…

  • Similar to my favourite microwave chocolate mug cake for one, but with more moisture and slight banana flavous
  • Super tender and moist
  • Rich, decadent chocolatey flavour
  • Naturally sweet from two ripe bananas
  • Gooey, warm melty chocolate chips when fresh out of the oven (or microwaved)
  • Chewy, cake-like, but melt-in-your mouth
  • Amazing flavour from vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and of course, banana

Mom made spaghetti bolognese about a week ago, and I devoured the last little bit yesterday on a bed of quinoa, topped with shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Mom made lots of steamed broccoli, which I sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Arnie’s been cute recently. See, I thought he was eight years old – but Dad recently told me that he was ten. WHAT?!

We officially have no idea how old he is. When I feel down, he always gives me a paw. 🙂

I went to a few toonie skates yesterday and the day before, and had a wonderful time both days. I miss the satisfaction of training in the skating world, but it was fun to twirl around freely.

IMG_E0176

Today, I am doing a presentation at Centennial, my high school. I’ll be talking about all kinds of things, from travel to work to volunteering to university choices.

FullSizeRender

I had a lot of good jokes planned, which I thought were hilarious, but Seline vetoed most of them. Dang.

Carrot muffins! Unpictured because… I don’t have pictures.

Carrot Muffins

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup flour (120 g)
  • 1 cup almond flour (100 g)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (50 g)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (I used fresh, though ground is great too)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid (carrot juice, apple/orange juice, any type of milk – I used dairy milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups grated carrots

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in middle position.
  2. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients, including grated carrots.
  4. In another bowl, whisk oil, liquid, eggs, vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir gently until the mixture is just combined. Do not over-mix.
  5. Divide batter amongst 12 muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool slightly before moving from muffin cups, then cool on a rack. Enjoy.

After this, Mom and I whipped up a chocolate torte. This simple recipe used the basics: semisweet chocolate, eggs, butter, and a few other ingredients. I added cinnamon, salt, and espresso powder for extra deliciousness. These flavours are known to boost the flavour of chocolate.

 

The cake turned out flat, crackly, and gloriously-scented. We can’t wait to cut into it later on, then serve it with whipped cream and berries.

 

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g semisweet chocolate bar, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 160g sugar
  • 50g flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 50g almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • splash vanilla extract
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • sprinkle espresso powder
  • cocoa powder for dusting

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees.
  2. Butter and line base and sides of springform pan.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a pan, and gently melt until smooth.
  4. Beat together eggs and sugar for five minutes until it reaches a custard-like consistency.
  5. Pour chocolate and butter into whisked egg and sugar. Fold it in carefully using a large metal spoon. Stir in vanilla extract.
  6. Mix flour, almonds, salt, cinnamon, and espresso powder together in a separate bowl.
  7. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until even. Fold patiently to incorporate air.
  8. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until evenly-set with a crust over the top. Cool until warm, then release from the tin. Dust with cocoa on top, or spread with whipped cream.
  9. Cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

Have a lovely afternoon!

Goodbye, Waterloo

On Wednesday (3 days ago), I flew out of Toronto and came back home to BC.

My last few meals in Ontario were absolutely delicious.

Good times were spent with my friends (this is Kianna, my friend from aerial silks) – and we had a great lunch at Solé Seafood Bar.

Complimentary bread, tomato and blue cheese noodles, spinach and feta flatbread – both of which I shared with my friend Lara. Kianna had the shrimp scampi.

For dessert, we had a dark chocolate tart with creme fraiche and berry coulis.

One day, I cooked Gordon Ramsay scrambled eggs, which turned out irresistibly creamy. They did take a little extra effort to make, and I prefer my spinach + cheddar eggs.

Meal plans were created:

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 8.25.36 AM.png

I liked my sweet potato fries, salmon, with broccoli couscous. The garlic aioli was my favourite part.

Pancakes are always a dreamy breakfast. Chopped prunes on top!

Almond Flour Pancakes

Serves 6 pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat together liquid ingredients. Whisk wet into dry.
  3. Allow batter to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Heat up pan to medium-high. Cook pancakes until tops are bubbly, edges are dry, and bottoms golden brown. Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with butter.

Have a lovely rest of the day, friends!

Unchronological Order

Good morning, everyone! I hope you are all having the loveliest of mornings. This was a meal of garlicky cheddar broiled pita, scrambled tofu with peas, and sautéed zucchini with mushrooms and peppers. Eaten about a month ago, and I’m just posting this now because I’m terribly disorganized.

These treats are from Vincenzo’s (specialty European grocery store in Waterloo), and I can’t wait for my family to try them. I also bought these and took these pics back in May (whaaaat?) and I’m not sure why I’m just sharing them now.

  • caramel milk chocolate
  • Scottish all-butter shortbread
  • white chocolate cranberry shortbread
  • tiramisu cream milk chocolate
  • 99% dark chocolate for my very health-conscious grandfather
  • French pure butter cookies
  • 3 bags of Italian black truffle chips

During a FaceTime session between my mom and I, she decided it would be a good idea to DRAW a picture of me – this is what I got. :O

Another day, my friends and I went to Menchies for frozen yogurt to celebrate after our Physiology final exam.

My Menchies cup was loaded with:

  • taro frozen yogurt
  • Nutella frozen yogurt
  • Oreo frozen yogurt
  • chocolate frozen yogurt
  • cinnamon toast crunch cereal <– my favourite cereal as a kid, next to Corn Puffs and Reese’s. Multigrain Cheerios and Lucky Charms (only the charms, though, let’s be real) were so good, too. Man, I could write a whole post about different cereals. What was your favourite?
  • peanut butter crackle
  • chocolate crackle
  • cheesecake chunks
  • brownie chunks
  • Nanaimo bar
  • yogurt-covered pretzel
  • peanut butter sauce
  • peanut butter cookie dough <– I need more of this in my life
  • Oreo pieces

And 12 hours before the Menchies, we were studying on campus. I am going to miss Athena and Jasmine so much. 😦

Recently, I’ve been living off of Minimalist Baker recipes. I adapted her chocolate breakfast quinoa bowl and have been loving this breakfast with a banana + lots of peanut butter in the morning. It’s so easy to make, and is wonderful meal prep for the days that you feel like having a variation from oatmeal.

I made two batches over the last 1.5 weeks, and will buy another can of coconut milk later today so I can make another 4 servings!

Rich Chocolate Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked white quinoa
  • 1 can of coconut milk + enough water to make 2 cups total
  • sea salt
  • 3 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse quinoa well. Drain.
  2. Heat saucepan over medium heat. Add rinsed, drained quinoa. Toast for 3 minutes while stirring rapidly to dry up water.
  3. Add coconut milk and water mixture, a pinch of salt, and stir. Boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. If it stops simmering, increase heat to medium-low. It should be slightly simmering.
  4. When the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, remove from heat and add cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  5. Adjust flavours if needed, adding more water if you prefer a thinner texture.
  6. Eat! Don’t forget to top with chocolate, berries, more milk, or sliced banana. Nut butter is a must for me.
  7. Leftovers keep in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 days.

This morning, I realized that my milk was due to expire soon so I quickly whipped up a giant mug of hot chocolate. This mug was warm, sweet, but not too sweet, comforting, and absolutely delicious despite the hot and sunny weather. I enjoyed it with a chocolate almond croissant that I froze a few months ago. Thank you, past Cindy.

Easiest Hot Chocolate

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREPARATION

    • Whisk together the cocoa, maple, salt, and about 2 tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and honey are dissolved. Whisk in the rest of the milk and heat it over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it is hot. Stir in the vanilla and serve.
    • If you like it frothy, blend it in the blender or use a milk frother.

Cocoa powder, guys. Apparently every recipe I made this week involves that good stuff. Since I didn’t have any coconut oil, I resorted to this recipe which is entirely free of added fats. The verdict? Not my favourite. I thought it had an odd bread-y texture, which was off-putting for brownies. I wouldn’t make this again. 😦

Fat-Free Vegan Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup flour (I used spelt)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp flax meal plus 6 tbsp water, whisked together

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Sift all the dry ingredients, including the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In another bowl mix together the maple syrup, water, flaxmeal mixture, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well mixed.
  3. Add the flour-cocoa mixture to this in 3 batches, mixing after each addition using a ladle or spatula. The batter will be thick.
  4. Prepare an 8 X 8-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment. Leave an overhang on each side of the pan so you can easily lift the brownies. Pour the batter in and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool thoroughly. Lift out the brownies using the foil overhang as handles, and cut into squares. Enjoy!

And that’s it for today! I hope y’all have the best rest of the week, and I cannot wait to share some exciting stuff with you. Seriously exciting.

Stay on your toes!

IMG_9348.PNG

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had a massive can of pumpkin puree, an hour of free time, and a craving for a warm, squash-y baked treat.

Yes – I know it’s the middle of summer and August is on the horizon, but it’s never too late (or early?) for some pumpkin quick bread! Especially when chocolate chips are involved.

Yum! This recipe uses spelt flour, but you can easily substitute any of your favourite flours (AP, whole wheat, or a combination). I loved the addition of oats in here, and find it amazing that this recipe goes easy on the oil.

It’s worth buying some super high-quality chocolate chips for this one – you won’t regret it!

Also, I put mine in the freezer and they are as good as fresh after you microwave ’em.

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I used spelt)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • scant 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large, separate bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, and oil on medium speed until combined. Add the milk and pumpkin and beat again until evenly combined. Add the dry ingredients, then gently stir them in by hand, just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with oats and chocolate chips. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  5. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

 

Also, check out how cute and funny my mom is…

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 12.11.25 AM

I love making shopping lists.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 12.23.30 AM

This meal was nice – roasted broccoli, baked salmon, couscous.

 

At aerials I learned how to do a meat hook!

IMG_8852

And that’s it for today. Only 10 days until I am back home in BC!

Summer Things (Quinoa Overload)

Good Saturday morning, everyone! This semester is a challenging one. It’s called my “2B” semester, and it’s known by all as the semester “2B or not 2B” because it’s kind of that make-it-or-break-it time.

A delicious creamy pumpkin quinoa casserole was made, topped with loads of fontina (new favourite cheese!) and broiled. I loved every bite of this 8×8 pan that I made!

Long lab reports were written… (this isn’t even all of it!). Glad it’s done.

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 12.14.27 AM

Memes were made for my sister, Seline 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 4.30.17 PM

I had plenty of great toast. This was a multigrain thick-sliced loaf baked in-store at Vincenzo’s, and it had great crunch and wonderful flavour from all the seeds. I topped half with smashed avocado, and the other half with almond butter and chopped prunes.

I’m really excited for next week, because I made a full food schedule. I’m looking forward to trying a dark chocolate breakfast quinoa recipe, and revisit some old favourites like broccoli casserole and sweet potato spinach stew. A shopping list was also made!

These peanut butter chocolate banana snacking squares are some of my favourite desserts of all time. All-time, I tell you!

IMG_8888

These chocolate muffins were chock-full of ricotta and surprisingly egg-free! The ricotta lent a great, springy texture.

Mom eats so much fruit back home in BC. I miss having fruit bowls all the time, because it’s pretty unfeasible for a university student to eat say, 1/4 an apple with 1/2 a kiwi, 1/2 a banana, and 1/2 a pear. 😦

52051943193__0DFAAFD5-CBD8-44BF-A405-F48505E254DF

Canada Day happened! No, I didn’t go to see the fireworks… but I stayed at home and listened to got annoyed by them all night. Is that close enough?

Another serving of that amazing pumpkin quinoa casserole, with some brownie! I made a massive pan of spectacular brownies, using pureed prunes (soaked in boiling water). They turned out very rich and decadent… and I have two squares left before I’ve eaten an entire 8×8 pan. By myself.

Oats – I mean quinoa! – in a jar with banana slices.

As you can see, I have a lot of quinoa to use up before I move out in mid-August. This was  another quinoa dish, this time mixed with sautéed mushrooms and yellow squash, mixed with a ricotta-plum tomato sauce, and topped with fontina. It tasted great! On the side, some garlicky green beans sautéed with tons of butter. Butter makes everything better 😉

Another day, I whipped up these glorious pancakes! Two eggs and half a sweet potato were whisked with a bit of flour, some baking powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. They always turn out super tender, and a perfect base for nut butter, yogurt, and granola. This was my favourite breakfast of the week.

Here is that quinoa-ricotta-plum tomato casserole again! I have one serving left, which I’ll be having for dinner tonight. The fontina is my favourite part 🙂

Some other things: I have to sell everything on my desk (actually, everything in my room for that matter). Also, my favourite calculator broke, and it was the saddest moment of my life. Friends and I are loving the summer semester, and we live in the same direction so we often walk home from classes together. Also, FaceTime-ing with Seline! She is the best.

Baked oatmeal (my favourite recipe) was made and enjoyed with blueberries, granola, and coconut chips. Almond butter on top of the baked oats. I have another serving of baked oats that I’ll be savouring tomorrow morning with some peanut butter!

Mom and Dad look so cute.

IMG_8924

Another afternoon, I walked to Sobeys to grocery-shop and saw the nicest sunset over Columbia Lake.

Revisiting old photographs – I took this when I visited the Ripley’s Aquarium last year with my dad. It’s o-fish-ially the best non-food photo I’ve ever taken. <– I’m also good at stealing puns and reusing them multiple times.

dsc00622

One more thing that I found on the internet and completely agree with:

19511322_10154739649695686_9055192385232038772_n

Hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful rest of the weekend!