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! 🙂

December Things | Coupons, Lobster, Turkey Marinade

Happy holidays, friends! ❄️

According to over 63,000 votes on Google Surveys, these are voters’ favourite parts of Christmas:

  • 3% carolling
  • 14% Christmas decorations
  • 9% Christmas dinner
  • 6% Christmas movies
  • 9% Christmas music
  • 24% presents
  • 7% Santa Claus
  • 28% time with family and friends

What do you think?

This holiday, I’ve been home for a week so far and have had so much deliciousness. First up, a tasty plate of Hainanese chicken rice, a fried egg, sauteed asparagus, and seared tofu with green onions. Mom is an amazing chef.

Another day, I loved chocolate oatmeal with crunchy peanut butter, along with the richest honey Greek yogurt and blackberries.

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Mom’s Taiwanese dishes are lovely. I loved this rouzao rice (minced pork rice) with stir-fried broccoli and carrots.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet up with the super intelligent, articulate, hardworking, and food-loving SHANNA YEUNG! I had such a fangirl moment when my mom and I saw her parking her car and coming over. Shanna suggested Kinemi Kitchen, a quiet Italian restaurant in a Vancouver strip mall. While unassuming from the outside, Kinemi Kitchen smelled amazing and served up the best cheesy baked lobster I’ve ever had, atop a bed of linguine and veggies in garlicky rosé sauce and parmesan,

We also had dessert: taro Nutella bubble tea sans bubbles and red bean cheesecake bubble tea – also sans bubbles. Before I knew it, I was on my way home!

Mom and I did some baking shortly after:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves one 9” pan (16 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 to 24 Oreo cookies or graham crackers, crushed finely (1.5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, optional (I didn’t use this)
  • 2 to 6 tbsp melted butter (depends on how much cookie you use)
  • 3 8-oz packages softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips, melted  in a double boiler and cooled
  • sprinkle of cinnamon, optional
  • 1/2 espresso powder, optional
  • 3 large eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine cookie crumbs, icing sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you smell a strong chocolate aroma.
  4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Add chocolate. Mix well.
  6. Add eggs one at a time. Mix on low speed until just blended.
  7. Add optional cinnamon and espresso powder, if desired.
  8. Pour over crust.
  9. Bake 55 mins, or until centre is set. Turn off the oven. Crack the door open several inches. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove.
  10. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen the cake.
  11. Cool before removing the rim.
  12. Refrigerate cheesecake for four hours.
  13. Serve with berries (raspberries are awesome), caramel sauce, and whipped cream.

The day before, I had the opportunity to speak at my high school about travelling, co-op, volunteer work, and life in university. It was a wonderful experience, and neat to see all the hopeful, excited grade twelve students.

On a completely different note, I emailed a bunch of companies during the fall (to ask for free samples) and recently made a compilation of all the companies that responded to me with coupons. These were all mailed to my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is: if you have free time, or no life like I do, email these companies and get some free coupons. Mom and I ended up getting juice, maple syrup, bread, three boxes of tea, nut butter, two large containers of hummus, and frozen chicken and cheese taquitos – for just over $1.00.

Operation Coupon

  • Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery $1 off (x5 coupons)
  • Tetley CARE Lemon Ginger tea bag
  • Tetley Ayurvedic Balance Herbal tea bag
  • Tetley free herbal iced tea
  • Tetley herbal iced tea save $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery one free package of any product (max value $5)
  • Ocean Spray save 50 cents
  • Quaker, Aunt Jemima, Rice-A-Roni $2 coupon
  • Maple Lodge Farms $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Nature save 50 cents (x5 coupons)
  • Hain Celestial $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Earth Balance $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • El Monterey Free product (max value $16.99)
  • El Monterey save $1 (x3 coupons)
  • Welch’s save 50 cents (x2 coupons)
  • TAZO free box of filter bag tea or tea latte concentrate (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Sabra hummus free product (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Smucker’s save 55 cents (x2 coupons)
  • Clover Leaf tuna snacks save 50 cents (x3 coupons)
  • Eden or Sobaya $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Splenda $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Twinning free box of tea, any size (max value $9.99)
  • Organic Meadow save 75 cents (x3 coupons)

That’s pretty much it for today. It’s Christmas Eve already, so I’m going to help with Mom’s turkey cooking. Here is what she used to make the turkey really flavourful.

Mom’s Special Turkey Seasonings

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • soy sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • lemon juice from a fresh lemon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • poultry seasoning
  • Montreal chicken seasoning
  • dried oregano
  • dried parsley
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  • dried basil
  • paprika

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.

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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.

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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!

Stupidly Delicious

Good morning guys! I hope everyone is having a beautiful day. It struck me yesterday that this Friday is going to be December. I can’t believe it. Looking at my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions, I feel like it hasn’t been that long since I last created these yearlong goals. Time really flies.

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Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • sprinkle cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup raisins

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Toast spices for 30 seconds, stirring the whole time.
  2. Add onion and scallions and 1/3 cup water. Cook 5 mins, until onion and scallions are soft and translucent.
  3. Whisk in coconut milk and remaining 2/3 cup water. Boil.
  4. Add sweet potatoes. Decrease heat to med-low. Cover. Simmer rapidly for 10-15 mins, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add raisins. Simmer uncovered for 5 mins, or until sweet potatoes break down into the sauce. Stir frequently. Remove from heat.
  6. Scoop curry into bowls and serve with brown rice and lime wedges if desired.

I spent some time over the weekend creating a new resume format for my sister, Seline. She chose the colour and style, so I just helped to put it all together.

 

For myself, I’ve been working on a Personal Statement for a co-op contest, as well as revising my own resume.

 

Last week, I had some delicious meals from Whole Foods. This bowl included barbeque smoked meat, mac and cheese, a cauliflower meatball, and more.

 

Few things from recently:

  • Did you guys know I’m interested in true crime and criminal psychology? My sister and I have been watching a lot of Unsolved Mysteries on YouTube.
  • On Sunday I had a great time, thanks to this detailed agenda – you’ll see in a moment!
  • Shopping lists
  • I made a 2048 tile! I must be the only person who still plays 2048…

 

I went to BakerBots Bakery on Sunday, where I bought this incredible pumpkin tart that I devoured yesterday. This buttery shortbread crust was filled with creamy, sweet, cinnamon-y pumpkin and topped with the fluffiest whipped cream, crispy glazed pumpkin seeds, and a homemade pumpkin cream puff.

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I also had a cinnamon bun! This cinnamon bun was from BakerBots as well. When I was in line to buy some pastries and ice cream, the girl in front of me insisted that I try their cinnamon buns. I must have looked very indecisive (they had such a large spread of treats!) because she told me, without hesitation, that I “have to try their cinnamon buns. They’re delicious. Stupidly delicious. Seriously, stupidly delicious.” I’m not a huge cinnamon bun fan, since I prefer cakes and muffins, but you can only see so many delicious scones and cinnamon buns from Cora’s site (which, Cora, if you’re reading this – I bought a donut and a muffin from Through Being Cool yesterday!). So I had to get a cinnamon bun.

And she was absolutely right. Stupidly delicious. Can I eat ten of these right now?

 

My office at work is now decorated for Christmas. I tried to make it anatomy-themed. Check out all the photos saved on my phone for inspiration!

 

Another incredible dessert: this banana eclair from Roselle. It was filled with white chocolate cream, vanilla chantilly, and rum-glazed bananas. I really loved how the eclair itself was crisp and light, rather than soft, mushy, and heavy.

 

My friend and I went to the Christmas market in Toronto. It was great to catch up on the cold, blustery Sunday and see all the lovely vendors and Christmas decorations.

 

I. Love. Christmas. From the lights to the carols to the fluffy scarves and the hot chocolate, I wish everyone could have that warm fuzziness of Christmas year-round.

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Ooooh, guys. Look at this. I’m freaking out. Let me just explain this deliciousness in point form:

  • Chewy (with crispy edges) peanut butter cookie with caramelized peanuts and chunks of peanut brittle
  • Ube ice cream (Japanese/Filipino sweet potato)
  • Toffee swirl ice cream with chunks of toffee

I devoured this in a heartbeat. Hands-down one of my Top 3 All-Time Favourite Desserts.

 

I also loved this brunch at Karelia Kitchen, where I munched on purple cornmeal pancakes, a poached duck egg, smoked salmon, and the best beet-cured gravlax.

 

That was all post-silks!

 

And these are some much simpler, but delicious nonetheless, meals from home. 🙂

 

I hope everyone has a festive week ⭐️

This Post Has Been HIDDEN for 3 Years

This post has been hiding.

Bloggers – you know what I mean… it’s that post that you’ve buried deep in the Drafts folder, where you promise yourself that you’ll come back to it.

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I didn’t come back to this until now. But whoa. Three years.

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In three years time, however, omelettes haven’t gotten out of style. I still love them 🙂

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Here, I used two eggs, zucchini, roasted red pepper, sharp white cheddar cheese, and kale (fresh from our garden – yay!). Separate the egg yolks from the whites. We’ll be coming back to this later!

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Heat some oil over medium heat, and cook the kale until slightly wilted. It won’t wilt nearly as much as spinach, but you just want to tenderize it. Remove to a plate when the kale looks cooked 🙂

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Zucchini is up next! In the same skillet, cook it just until it obtains a nice, slightly brown colour.

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Chop up the kale and the pepper. These can be whisked right into the egg white.

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Awesome! Pour the egg yolks (or just one, if you’d like) back into the egg whites and give it another good beating. 😉

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Spread the zucchini out and carefully pour the egg-vegetable mixture into the zucchini. Spread it out with a rubber spatula and let it cook for a bit less than a minute.

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Looks good! Sprinkle the cheese on top and cook until the eggs have mostly set.

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Use your rubber spatula to give the eggs a big flip!

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Misfolded ones are equally tasty. At least this one didn’t turn into a scramble!

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I miss Mom’s pretty flowers on the kitchen table. Those were the days!

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The combination of fresh veggies, rich egg, and creamy cheese is so divine.

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Have a wonderful Friday!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Who else loves banana muffins?

Studded with blueberries, these simple, healthy, and super cute muffins are sure to be devoured. Loaded with banana flavour from three large bananas, the cinnamon-vanilla batter tastes fantastic with fresh (or frozen!) blueberries.

I also love the use of applesauce in this recipe to keep the muffins tender. Enjoy!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups flour (180 g)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  3. Toss one scoop of flour (from the 1.5 cups) with the 1 cup of blueberries. If you wish, you may reserve some for the topping.
  4. Place all ingredients, except flour and blueberries, in the blender. When fully combined, stir in flour. Do not over-mix.
  5. Fold in the flour-coated blueberries.
  6. Pour into muffin cups and bake for 20+ minutes.

Yum. Let’s get baking!

PS: you need to slather these with almond butter. Please.

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Have a beautiful rest of the week, everyone ❤