Winter Break in Pictures

It’s almost the new year! Which means it’s time to clean out all my old photos. And what better way to do so than to upload them all here?

Lunch at Boston Pizza with the family. Featuring cheesy garlic bread over seven-cheese ravioli, shrimp tacos and fries, and sun-dried tomato and chicken quesadillas with sweet potato fries.

The cheesiest pasta, made at home with jarred marinara, topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and served with buttery parmesan naan bread and spicy sautéed broccoli.

Roasted potatoes and broccoli with baked maple-soy salmon over rice, and some time at a local coffee shop (Coffee and Vanilla) with high school friend Joanne.

I’m kind of in love with Costco’s stuffed peppers. These were served with plenty of Parmesan cheese (more added after, of course), sautéed carrots and asparagus, and fresh corn on the cob stir-fried with green onions.

More time at a coffee shop, this time with high school friend Medha at Juillet Café.

Another day, I enjoyed leftover roasted broccoli, chopped up into an egg scramble with freshly-grated Gouda. The toast was extra special, being Mom’s favourite brioche bread with butter.

One more coffee shop: yesterday, I spent time with the lovely Rachel at The Birds and The Beets, where we chatted over some great dishes. I loved the cheddar-filled egg scramble with spicy mayo and greens in my breakfast sandwich, and Rachel had homemade yogurt with granola and jam.

Guys. I read a new, obsession-worthy book! Initially, I forced my sister to buy and read Scythe by Neal Shusterman over the summer, and she obliged reluctantly. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a big fan. I finally read it myself this winter and fell in love with the beautiful, futuristic world and captivating concept. If Neal Shusterman and Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games trilogy) were given the same prompts – futuristic North America, teenage boy and girl in a deadly competition, justification for murder, modernized Roman weapons, archaic Greek and Roman names, malicious and all-seeing government à la Big Brother of 1984 – you’d end up with two incredibly different, yet similar, tales: Scythe by Shusterman and The Hunger Games by Collins.

Here’s the synopsis on the inside cover of Scythe:

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

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Onto an entirely different thing: party food! Mom and I made Christmas Eve dinner for friends and family, including a special chocolate cheesecake, crackers with Laughing Cow cheese, hummus, and maple smoked salmon nuggets, stir-fried veggies, a seasoned turkey with gravy, baked potatoes, and almond banana muffins.

Finally, Mom made these pearl meatballs, a Chinese dish that involves ground pork, ginger, green onions, and spices, with glutinous rice rolled overtop before steaming. These are one of my favourite Chinese meat dishes, particularly with purple yam underneath while steaming.

There was a bit of experimentation in the kitchen, where Seline and I tried to make Ricardo’s checkerboard cake. It was fun to make (and an absolutely painstaking process), but didn’t turn out as expected – hence the lack of photos of the finished product. It tasted good though, but how could it not, with homemade buttercream frosting, homemade pound cake, and homemade caramel?

Checkerboard Cake

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Caramel

  • 3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream/heavy cream

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (170 g)
  • 2 cups icing sugar (250 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (226 g)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (250 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (256 g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp more milk
  • cocoa for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Caramel: Cook sugar and half the water until mixture is golden brown. Add remaining water and cream. Simmer 2 minutes. Cool completely and set aside.
  2. Frosting: Beat all frosting ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Butter two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  5. Cream butter and sugar.
  6. Add eggs, vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  7. Combine flour and baking powder.
  8. Stir dry ingredients into previous mixture, alternating with milk.
  9. Divide batter in half.
  10. Add cocoa powder and extra milk into one portion of the batter. Mix gently.
  11. Spread chocolate batter into one loaf pan.
  12. Spread vanilla batter into the other loaf pan.
  13. Bake in the middle of the oven for approx. 40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Cool.
  14. Remove from pans. Slice off the rounded top of the cake.
  15. Slice cake in half horizontally.
  16. Layer slices alternately of chocolate and vanilla.
  17. Spread caramel between each layer, so they stick together. Level the sides of the cake.
  18. Slice the cake vertically into three long pieces.
  19. Lay a slice of the cake flat, and cover with caramel. Layer with remaining slices, alternating the colours to form a checkerboard with caramel between each layer.
  20. Frost the cake with a very thin layer with a spatula. Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. This is a crumb coat which will prevent chocolate crumbs from appearing on the frosting.
  21. Spread the remaining frosting.

That’s it, guys – happy rest of 2017! 🙂

Snakes and Stew Ideas

Hey guys!

Hope all is well this sunny week ☀️ On my end, everything has been fantastic. Last Saturday, I met my coworkers Rikki and Erin at the zoo. The walk was pretty long, but so rewarding.

The fall scenery was stunning. I’m surprised by the sheer number of trees here in Scarborough. It’s so different from the concrete jungle we call Toronto, but I’m definitely not complaining about this beautiful foliage.

The zoo was awesome. I was pretty disappointed because I paid the $23 entrance fee – but I had a library card that would’ve allowed me to enter for free. 😢 Tragic.

But the animals were neat, and the weather was fantastic for the long walk around the zoo. I loved the bats and snakes.

That day, I enjoyed vegetable biryani that I made previously. I topped the butternut squash and onion biryani rice with crushed cashews and sautéed carrots with red peppers.

Another day, I loved this Thai green curry with butternut squash biryani.

I’ve still been doing lots of learning, teaching, learning, and teaching.

It. Is. So. Much. Fun. It’s like I’m being PAID to go to school. Which is pretty sweet.

Here are some images that I found while searching for amazing fall dinners. Don’t these look amazing?! I’m picking up some ingredients to make a pumpkin lentil stew later this weekend.

The sky during the evening is spectacular around here. It looks like a pastel piece of artwork or some kind of watercolour painting. It was mind-blowing to see in person.

The old classic, my favourite African peanut stew with sweet potatoes. This time, I made couscous instead of rice, and added mushrooms and a baby spinach/kale mix into the stew. Topped with crushed peanuts, as usual. This is my #1 favourite meal prep of the fall, apparently.

Another day, I went to the Scarborough Town Centre, the mall. I had Naan and Kebab again, where I nommed on the best basmati rice, creamy chickpeas (I need this recipe), charred tandoori paneer with zucchini, and fresh salad greens and a side of naan bread. I am head-over-heels in love with this place. Can I have more?!

Dessert? Chocolate almond croissant from Brioche Dorée. I asked them to heat it up for me, and they did, so it was warm but not crispy. I like my croissants crispy instead of soft, which makes them feel oily/flimsy. The chocolate was abundant, however, and the filling was damn delicious. I think you guys know how picky I am about these chocolate almond croissants…

Recently, we started a website as a resource for our students. It’s called Anatomy Academy. It’s still a work in progress.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

✧ Lately ✧

Does anyone have a cool human body project idea?

A walk back home, taking the scenic route. What an interesting place, right? In my opinion, this doesn’t even look like Canada.

A trip to the library = six new (to me) books. I. Can’t. Wait.

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Deliciousness in the form of Thai green curry and biryani rice.

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Vegetable Biryani

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, quartered and cut into 5-cm  segments
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • S+P
  • 2 cups yellow onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins or currants
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash, carrots, and bell pepper with 2 tbsp oil, curry powder, and salt.
  2. Roast vegetables until tender when pierced, 20-25 mins.
  3. Warm 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, 6 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in rice. Cook 1 minute.
  6. Add broth, raisins, and turmeric. Simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer gently until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 10-12 mins.
  8. Remove from heat. Keep covered until vegetables have finished roasting.
  9. Fold in roasted vegetables and cashews. Season with S+P. Serve.

I went for the most enjoyable walk on Monday evening.

The beach at East Point Park was quite nice. I’m looking forward to a jaunt to Guild Park soon!

Who knew Scarborough could be so pretty?

The sunshine and superb blue skies made a huge difference. This walk really brightened by day, literally and figuratively.

Another day-brightener: I had pizza twice. One slice was ricotta and olive, the other was poached pear with ham and brie. Completely in love with both.

2018 Winter Olympics! Did they come fast or what? The Olympics make me realize that the years go by FAST. I’m looking forward to figure skating! Also, I finished reading the Maze Runner, and now I’ll have to see the movie 🎥

Tonight, I had chili! Topped with cheddar and lime – the best.

Healthy Pumpkin Chili

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 large chopped white onion
  • sprinkle garlic powder
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 lime
  • desired toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic powder until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers, cook another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, broth and spices (excluding the lime until the end). Stir until well combined.
  3. Bring to a slight boil, turn down heat and cover to let simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh lime juice.
  5. Serve with your favorite spices and toppings.

Have a glorious rest of the week, everyone!

Starstruck: 2017 Schulich Leader Scholarship Get-Together

Saturday was SLxON, a special networking event for Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients across Ontario. It took place, like last year, at the MaRS Discovery Centre in downtown Toronto. This year, it was extra-special because the event was Canada-wide.

A post from the 2016 SLxON can be found here!

Here are some photos from the event.

We had a great time, especially during the Instagram challenge.

How does SLxON make you feel? Wish I had thought of the word starstruck. These people amaze me.

SLXCA… with our bodies! The floor was pretty comfortable.

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There were some fantastic speakers and a wonderful presentation by Dr. Julielynn Wong, who was incredibly passionate and inspiring.

Selfie!

❤ ❤ ❤

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More ❤ ❤ ❤ at the post-event, at Prenup Pub where we had snacks and drinks.

Then it was off to Scarborough for a restful night at home!

August 26th: National Dog Day!

Today is Saturday, August 26th, which is National Dog Day.

So, what better day is there, to celebrate our furry buddies? In other words, I’d love to show you about 659 photos of my special friend, Arnie.

As some of you may know, I have a family doggie called Arnold, or Arnie. Normally, my mom walks him, plays with him, feeds him, and takes care of him.

Arnie’s mother was a beautiful golden retriever, and his father was a nice black lab. We picked him up from a farm in Chilliwack, and he has brothers and sisters all around Metro Vancouver.

We’ve had Arnie since he was just a few weeks old, and he is now nine years old. His birthday was early August. I can’t believe I’ve been with him since Grade 7 – I’m now going into my third year of university.

Arnie is friendly, loves licking people, and enjoys suntanning, getting his fur brushed, and prancing around the local parks.

Now that I am back for the summer, I have plenty of time to play with him and take him for morning walks.

Apparently he also likes to read? Here, he’s taking a peek at Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. He approves of the plot twist 😉

Side note: I. Need. To. Discuss. This book with someone! Shoot me a PM?

Happy National Dog Day!

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:

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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!