Cooking, Baking, and Books | Lately

Good Sunday morning!

I’ve been back in BC for a little over a week, and things have been going so smoothly. I’ve been relaxing at home with the family, seeing friends, and spending time with my sister, who has just started her second semester of her last year of high school.

Some eats:

  • braised ribs with vermicelli noodles, carrots, quail eggs, Chinese greens, brown rice
  • coconut curry with chicken breast, cauliflower, edamame, and steamed green beans
  • coconut curry with chicken breast, cauliflower, edamame, and steamed green beans
  • purple rice, tofu with ground pork and scallions, steamed broccoli, carrot scrambled eggs
  • butter noodles with fried chicken breast and poached egg

 

  • purple rice, tofu with ground pork and scallions, steamed broccoli, carrot scrambled eggs, baked fish
  • honey garlic chicken wings and drumettes, lotus root patties with ground pork, sautéed green beans
  • satay chicken, tofu with ground pork, sautéed vegetables with scallion oil, rice

Another day, Mom and I baked an almond flour cake, that we topped with frozen sliced peaches, berries, and sliced almonds. This tastes so good, and I love the texture that almond flour lends to baked goods.

After a lovely dinner (lobster ravioli for me, steak and fries for Seline) at Joeys, Seline and I watched the Death Cure, the third movie in the Maze Runner trilogy. I first watched it in Taiwan, but was happy to see it in theatres again, this time with my sister. I was (and still am!) a lover of James Dashner’s writing, even when the Maze Runner books first came out back in 2009. I felt like the movies did the books justice, and loved the action. This series, in my opinion, made the best movies compared to Divergent, the Hunger Games, and other YA book-to-movies.

A book that I read yesterday, by Tommy Wallach, has been stuck in my mind. I love books full of unpredictable twists. Another afternoon, I made a collage of things I like and value. You can see the aerials and yoga, the studying, a map and camera to represent travel, some of my favourite quotes, my bookshelf, and of course, my family.

Seline and I spent some time with her friend at the local mall, where I devoured this taro and oolong tea soft serve, which was topped with sweetened condensed milk. In between the layers of soft serve, you’ll find plenty of pureed taro and whole red beans.

Since today is Seline’s birthday, we are going to Brown’s Social House to celebrate. We have a lot of exciting things planned for today, since she is turning 18. 🙂

  • 10:00 buy helium balloons
  • 12:00 lunch at Browns
  • 4:00 Juillet Cafe?
  • 5:00 Diva mani/pedi
  • 6:00 dinner
    • mushrooms, onions, garlic cooked and mashed with shredded gouda and spices, into puff pastry wheels
    • mashed potatoes
    • corn on the cob
    • bread machine bread
    • chicken
    • garlic green beans
    • Dairy Queen cake dessert
  • 8:30 I, Tonya movie

Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

Lately ✿

The last smidge of summer was filled with bittersweet (mostly sweet – literally) moments.

Exhibit A: this dessert plate that featured chocolate banana “ice cream” à la Tom Daley, peanut butter tofu pie, and chocolate almond banana bread (on my Recipe page) with coconut yogurt and nut butter. Mmmmm.

Tofu haters – I promise you won’t taste the tofu. This is a super satisfying dessert that’ll be sure to cure any sweet-salty cravings. One of my all-time favourite recipes, and it’s a hit with guests, too!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Makes 8 slices

NOTE: requires chilling coconut milk overnight, requires 30 minutes out of freezer before serving

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups of crushed graham crackers (about 10-12 crackers)
  • 4.5 tbsp melted coconut oil, or more if needed

Pie

  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (125 g)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight so the liquid and cream separate (do not shake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, if needed

Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (175 g)
  • 1/3 cup milk (almond, dairy, or coconut are fine)
  • roasted salted peanuts, chopped, if desired for decoration

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly oil glass pie pan.
  3. Process graham crackers until you achieve a fine meal. A little texture is okay. Add melted coconut oil and pulse to combine.
  4. Press the crust into the pan and push down to flatten.
  5. Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Add tofu, peanut butter, maple/honey to a blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Add more maple/honey for added sweetness, or more salt if the peanut butter is not salted enough.
  7. Scoop out the cream from the coconut milk can. Whip into whipped cream in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  8. Fold peanut butter-tofu mixture into whipped coconut cream.
  9. Pour filling over cooled crust. Freeze to chill. After one hour, prepare ganache.
  10. Add chocolate chips to a bowl. Heat milk to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips. Do not touch for 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
  11. Stir gently with spoon until a smooth ganache forms. If it doesn’t melt, heat it in microwave for 10 seconds until smooth.
  12. Spoon over top of pie. Spread evenly with knife. Work quickly. I drizzled mine on, then swirled with a knife.
  13. Top with peanuts, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze to set.
  14. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and serve.

The last bit of summer was filled with Mom’s incredible cooking. This is my favourite type of fried rice, which is made with dried and rehydrated scallops, green onions, egg white, and more. Shiitake mushroom chicken broth, too. Isn’t that a colourful salad on the side?

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This was my last meal in Coquitlam, BC, so Mom made all my favourites! Tomato scrambled eggs with shrimp, red bean pancakes with sesame seeds, broccoli-carrot stir-fry with mushrooms and cloud ears, and leftover scallop fried rice.

Something similar, but this was on a totally different day: peri peri chicken, the same tomato scrambled eggs, stir-fried veggies (this time with chestnut) and plain rice.

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I love Mom’s cooking so much. More of those red bean sesame pancakes, along with cauliflower and not-too-spicy mapo tofu for my pathetic spice-wimp taste buds.

This meal, actually, was followed by an MRI to screen my pituitary gland. Lying completely motionless inside the little pod (for ~50 minutes) was eerie and unsettling, yet strangely meditative. Except for the needle, it was a neat experience.

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Another day, Mom and I made spaghetti bolognese with fresh ground beef, mixed it with al dente shells, and layered/topped it with an entire log of mozzarella cheese.

Served with garlicky green beans, this dish was a massive hit in the Wei home! I credit that incredible fresh mozzarella.

This summer, I challenged myself to bake a whole bunch of things. Most of the “whole bunch of things” never got baked because of busyness laziness, but these flaky feta-chive scones did! I think you’ll like them as much as my family did.

Flaky, Buttery Feta Chive Biscuits

Makes approx. 12 small scones

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes (170 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very cold water
  • 3/4 cup cold sour cream, or cold plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup large crumbles of feta cheese
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash, with a splash of milk if needed
  • coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper, and paprika for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place rack in centre/upper third of oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper. Use two knives/forks, or a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Dough should have buttery pea-sized chunks throughout.
  5. In another bowl, lightly beat egg, sour cream, and water, with a fork.
  6. Add wet mixture into flour mixture all at once. Stir enough to make soft, shaggy dough. Use fork to scrape from bottom to top of dough.
  7. Add chives and feta.
  8. Dump mixture on a clean counter to knead dough together. Mixture should come together in 10-15 kneads.
  9. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds, using biscuit cutter. You can also roll the dough into a rectangular shape, and cut the biscuits into triangular shapes. Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, black pepper, and smoky paprika.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Biscuits are best eaten on the day they are made, but will last up to two days.

We froze some of them!

These prune blondies were also whipped up. My mom enjoyed them, and I really liked the chewy texture that reminded me of glutinous rice.

Prune Blondies

Makes 12 blondies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, softened in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp mixed nuts, toasted/chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. In blender, combine prunes and water. Process until smooth. Add brown sugar, oil, egg, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Fold with a spatula until just combined, then pour batter into prepared pan. Top with nuts.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting/serving.

I also made a large list of books that I can’t wait to get my hands on (some of them, for the second time). Have you read any of them?

Books to Read

  • Boo
  • The Female of the Species
  • Unnatural Deeds
  • With Malice
  • And the Trees Crept In
  • A Mother’s Reckoning
  • What Happened to Ivy
  • Red Rain
  • Burning
  • The Cellar
  • Confessions About Colton
  • Run
  • The Letter
  • Her Fearful Symmetry
  • The Hour I First Believed
  • The Little Friend
  • My Name is Memory
  • Mystic River
  • She’s Come Undone *
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • White Oleander *
  • The Shipping News
  • Change of Heart
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • The Book of Ruth
  • Mystic River
  • Black and Blue
  • Everything I Never Told You
  • Visitation Street
  • The Vanishing Season
  • Elsewhere
  • The Afterlife (cool)
  • Shine
  • Before I Die
  • Where I Want to Be (cool)
  • Falling Into Place (cool)
  • The Age of Miracles
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • The Giver
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • Eat When You Feel Sad
  • To the Lighthouse
  • 300 Million
  • 1 Dead in Attic
  • An Invisible Sign of my Own

Seline, my sister, also wrote a special poem inspired by the stunning rocky hills on Salt Spring Island. She actually has her own poetry blog, which, by the way, looks a lot prettier than my unplanned collages of unfiltered (i.e. ugly) iPhone photos.

Rocks

The rocky path

Illuminated by a simple

Ray of sun

No one beside

In front

or

Behind

As I glide down the hill,

wood chips sticking in my shoes.

I trot

down

the trail.

I jump

Left

to

Right,

Hopping from one rock,

to another.

Finally reaching my destination

on top of

the rock

for all to see.

And that’s it, everyone! Have a glorious rest of the week.

My Cooking Staples

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE: yogurt, eggs, cheese

STAPLE ALWAYS ON HAND: oats, quinoa, cocoa powder, nut butter

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES: homemade granola or some other quickbread/brownie

GO-TO PROTEINS: eggs, tofu, beans, nuts and nut butter

FAVE CONDIMENTS: salsa, pesto, garlic aioli, Dijon mustard

DAIRY FAVOURITE: old cheddar, fontina

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES: oats, dry pasta, nut butter

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES: chocolate, coconut cookies

FAVE VEGGIES AND WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT: spinach in spinach scrambled eggs, any kind of vegetable in a creamy coconut Thai curry, and broccoli in broccoli-cheddar quinoa casserole

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE: smashed avocado on toast with 2 scrambled eggs, spinach, and cheddar

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE: nut butter and yogurt

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER: butter, salt (even in sweet recipes), cinnamon, freshly-ground black pepper, GARLIC

LAST-MINUTE ENTERTAINING: crackers and brie

BEST SHOPPING TIPS: create a meal map before grocery shopping, listing the meals you’d like to try and ingredients you’ll need.

FAVOURITE PLACES TO SHOP: farmer’s markets and specialty grocery stores

BEST BARGAIN: frozen peas, shrimp (okay, anything frozen) in bulk from Costco

CRAZIEST THING TO BUY: I occasionally buy real vanilla beans, which are luxurious and so amazing. Truffle salt, maybe!

IN MY SHOPPING BAG: Today? Maybe some pretzels because I’m craving those!

Top 24 Favourite Recipes on The Flying Foodie

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while!

I scoured my Recipes page and browsed through so many old posts to compile this listicle (you know, list + article).

Most of my favourite recipes are easy to make, require minimal ingredients, and are super flavourful and filling.

What do you think? They are in no particular order. 🙂

Personal Favourite Recipes My Blog

  1. Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Cake: rich, banana-y, with a great texture, it’s easy to see why this is one of my all-time favourites.
  2. Chickpea Blondies: I make this all the time, swapping peanut butter for almond or cashew, and the honey for maple. It always, always, turns out wonderfully.
  3. Vegan Banana Bread Buckwheat Bake: like a cake made a baby with a muffin, this breakfast cake reminds me of a modern baked oatmeal.
  4. African Peanut Stew: this recipe is why I love cumin.
  5. Peanut Butter Cookie Baked Oats: do I need to explain?
  6. Almond Flour Berry Cake: I make this all the time, changing up the fruit to match what’s in season. I’ve done it with blueberries (frozen), and even peaches and blackberries. Most of the time, I double or even triple the recipe!
  7. Baked Banana Oatmeal: it’s a classic. I often always pair this with Greek yogurt and nut butter.
  8. Paleo Coconut Flour Cake: I had a deep, dark hatred for coconut flour… until I attempted this recipe. Sweet, rich with coconut flavour, and with a spongy texture, this recipe is coconut flour perfection.
  9. Loaded Mexican Sweet Potatoes: believe me when I say that this recipe is so good, you might not even need the cheese! I’m a huge cheese lover, so that says something…
  10. 100-Calorie Chocolate Banana Cake Squares: YES. This one is in the Top 3 for sure. You would never guess that it’s made completely oil-free by swapping the butter for applesauce, and with a rich, deep chocolatey flavour, this satisfies all my dessert cravings with minimal oil and sugar. I buy extra bananas to make this. Heck, my roommates “preserve” their bananas so these cake squares can be made.
  11. Sweet Potato Tofu Hash: I am not a savoury breakfast person, but if I had to choose, this would 100% be the one.
  12. Black Bean Brownies: try it.
  13. Maple-Soy Salmon: I make this at least twice a month.
  14. Homemade Cinnamon Vanilla Almond Milk: okay, so I’ve only made this once. But it was so tasty that I don’t think I ever want to buy store-bought almond milk again.
  15. Sweet Potato Spice Muffins: I made a whole batch of these to bring to Toronto when I moved here a couple months ago. They vanished in less than a week.
  16. Spicy Butter Salmon: when my salmon isn’t marinated in maple syrup and soy sauce, this is the one. It pairs beautifully with any grain or veggie.
  17. The Best Banana Muffins: from raisins to pistachios to chocolate chips, my mom and I have done it all. It always turns out well, and is incredibly popular with friends and family.
  18. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Snack Bread: this recipe does require more ingredients than most, but it’s chewy, oat-y, and flavoured with just the right amount of peanut butter and cocoa powder. I love it for a quick pick-me-up snack in between during classes.
  19. Spicy Spinach Coconut Noodles: noodle lovers, this one is for you! Just save me a plate.
  20. Healthy “Costco” Blueberry Muffins: so close to the real thing, minus the diglycerides, sulphites, and all that…. whatever it is.
  21. Decadent 2-Minute Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake for One: last summer, my roommates and I made this recipe every night. The same recipe for weeks. It’s THAT good. I like mine with peanut butter… but then again, is there anything I won’t add nut butter to?
  22. Creamy Vegetable Quinoa Casserole: this is made on a weekly rotation. It’s the best meal prep!
  23. Peanut Sauce: from drizzling on tofu to a dip for fresh summer rolls, this recipe is versatile and balances all the right flavours of spice, sourness, and sweetness. I always find myself licking plates and bowls when peanut sauce is involved.
  24. Quinoa and Almond Flour Carrot Cake: this cake is truly amazing. It uses nutritious quinoa flour and a good dose of almond flour for a carrot cake with excellent flavour and health benefits. It’s one of my #1 favourite toppers for yogurt or oatmeal!

I love revisiting old posts and thinking about how my recipe preferences change over time, though the old favourites stay the same.

What are the top recipes on your blog?

32 Refreshing Summer Salad Ideas

Summer Salad Ideas (Inspired by the salad bars at Loblaws and Longo’s Market)

Remember to add salt + pepper to everything!

  1. shell pasta with turmeric-curry mayo dressing, celery, green onions, yellow raisins
  2. seven grain salad with wheat berries, lentils, rice, couscous, mung beans (green), adzuki beans (red), pearl barley, navy beans, green onions, red pepper, soy sauce, turmeric, vinegar, honey
  3. apricots and couscous
  4. boiled and chopped white potatoes with cheddar cheese and green onions, mayo dressing
  5. tuscany bean salad with barley, chickpeas, navy beans, green and red peppers, green onions, pesto, sundried tomatoes, vinegar
  6. wheat berries, sunflower seeds, red peppers, raisins, lemon juice, parsley, honey, ginger
  7. bean salad with black beans, kidney beans, corn, lemon/lime juice, cumin, chilli powder
  8. fancy bean salad with chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, red kidney beans, canola oil, sugar, navy beans, red peppers, vinegar, celery, parsley, garlic, lemon
  9. curried quinoa salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, tiny purple raisins or cranberries, slivered or sliced almonds, maple/honey-tahini dressing mixed in
  10. Thai noodle salad with black sesame seeds, snap peas, cabbage, green onions, cubed chicken, cucumbers
  11. artichoke salad with chickpeas, chopped peppers, sliced kale, edamame
  12. California quinoa salad with mango chunks, raisins, black beans
  13. kale salad with lemon honey poppyseed dressing: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, beets, sunflower seeds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds
  14. kale Caesar salad
  15. curried tofu salad with tofu, canola oil, red and green peppers, raisins, carrots, green onions, almonds, mayonnaise, curry sauce, cumin, sugar, shredded coconut, garlic powder, lemon juice
  16. quinoa salad with feta, corn, spinach
  17. chickpeas, beets, carrots, edamame, Israeli couscous
  18. tiny penne, cucumbers, tomatoes
  19. tabouli salad with couscous, cucumber, tomatoes
  20. beets and feta cheese chunks
  21. seafood salad with tiny shrimp, green onions, red bell pepper, shredded crab meat
  22. black grain firecracker salad with black rice, black barley, black quinoa, carrot, yellow pepper and red pepper with dressing of canola oil, honey, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, Italian parsley
  23. edamame and tomatoes, corn, shredded carrots
  24. quinoa with kale, almonds, feta
  25. macaroni 3-cheese salad with pasta, mayonnaise, sour cream, carrots, peppers, cheddar, green onion, mozzarella, lemon, garlic, sugar, parmesan, parsley, white vinegar
  26. chickpeas, shredded carrots, flax, red peppers
  27. cilantro tabouleh salad with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa, canola oil, lemon, coriander, mint, vinegar, parsley
  28. Silican pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pesto, cheese
  29. summer rotini salad with pasta, tomato, spinach, green and red peppers, black olives, onion, white vinegar, garlic, parsley
  30. creamy salmon
  31. honey chicken with red and yellow peppers, poppyseeds
  32. quiche with leeks and brie (not a salad, but… yum)

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Yum.

Pros and Cons of Veganism

First of all, what IS veganism?

People following a vegan diet do not eat animal products. That includes, but is not limited to, eggs, fish, dairy, gelatine, and even honey. People choose to become vegan for reasons that may be health-related, cultural, religious, or ethical.

A day as a vegan might look like this:

  • Breakfast of oatmeal in almond milk, a banana, berries, nut butter, and chia seeds
  • Snack of an apple and hummus
  • Lunch of sweet potatoes, quinoa, wilted spinach, black beans, corn, and nuts
  • Snack of smoothie with blueberries, coconut milk, and hemp hearts
  • Dinner of kale salad, with broccoli, beets, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, nuts, and a tahini dressing

PROS of Veganism:

  • reduced risk of disease
  • may help lower BMI, because vegan diets tend to be lower in calories
  • may help lower hypertension rate
  • slower progression of kidney disease
  • saves animals
  • decrease pollution greenhouse gas production, and acid rain
  • saves water and natural resources
  • increases antioxidant intake
  • promotes greater self-control
  • there are now lots of vegan bloggers that create incredible recipes (think Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker)
  • that being said, veganism can be absolutely delicious

CONS of Veganism:

  • if you do not live near an organic/speciality foods store, it may be hard to get your hands on things like chia seeds, flax seeds, and other vegan “essentials”
  • more expensive, depending on your choice of groceries
  • may be a radical change
  • may interfere with current medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or diabetes
  • may be “carb-heavy”, which can be “good” (sweet potatoes, veggies, peas), or refined (i.e. French fries, white bread)
  • difficulties when dining out, eating away from home, or travelling long distances
  • decreased calcium intake, thus increased risk for bone fractures
  • decrease iodine (for proper thyroid function)
  • decreased iron intake
  • supplements may be pricey

The bottom line: make the right choices for YOU, your beliefs, your body, and your resources. One size never fits all, and never hesitate to seek professional guidance if you need it.

Perhaps this quote says it best:

“All in all, whether you eat only vegetables and soy, or if your one of those people who has steak for breakfast and dinner, at least we can all still agree on one thing: Oreos.”

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