An Outstanding October | Baking and Life

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Breakfast this morning – roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, truffled green beans, 2 scrambled eggs with truffled Gouda, 2 pieces halloumi, roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan // homemade almond milk hot chocolate

This month has been really lovely so far. I am pretty busy with my classes, and have a lot of school work and communication to keep up with. Now that midterms are over, I am happy to have some time to relax and get a head start on studying for the second round of midterms.

Yesterday, I baked chocolate chip banana squares. Since there were five ripe bananas calling my name, I settled on this recipe, which featured five bananas. I adjusted the amounts of flour and added some oats. They turned out AMAZING – I ate two this morning for breakfast after scrambled eggs and veggies. These banana chocolate chip squares are really tender, and satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I hope you give the recipe a shot!

Five-Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

Inspired by this recipe

Makes 16 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Put parchment paper on a 9×9 pan.
  2. Place bananas, honey, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a blender. Blend completely and pour into large bowl.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

When I found myself with an extra baked sweet potato, I took off the skin and pureed it, then used it in this great recipe for sweet potato baked oats. They turned out fantastic, and had so much flavour. I’m having fun modifying this base recipe (1.3 cups oats, 1 cup liquid) to try different things. I recently tried this with pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato puree, and steeped the almond milk in chai tea leaves for a great pumpkin-chai fall baked oatmeal.

Healthy Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal

4 servings

  • 1 and 1/3 cups quick oats
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sweet potato puree (1 medium sweet potato)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all and bake in 8×8 pan for 25 mins at 350 degrees.


One final baking adventure – I had lots of leftover carrots from making Thai green curry, and thought it would be really nice to bake them up into squares. These turned out great – just sweet enough, and loaded with fall flavour. They froze very well.

Apple-Carrot Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 single-serve containers of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk all wet ingredients.
  3. Whisk all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. 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.
  6. 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.

Things from recently:

  • trying to get tickets to Corteo, which is coming to Toronto soon
  • shopping lists
  • choreography ideas
  • recipe for chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl, which I have yet to make
  • new Netflix show on figure skating
  • study schedules
  • ways to learn

Seline and I had lunch at Taco Farm one day, and I had a lovely plate of enchiladas with Mexican rice, arugula salad with pineapples, and sour cream. Seline enjoyed her brunch poutine – a lovely dish of chorizo, veggies, and a fried egg.

Afterwards, we spent some quiet study time at Seven Shores Cafe, where I had a great pumpkin spice chai latte and a vegan chocolate chip cranberry muffin. Seven Shores has the best creative baked goods, and I cannot wait to have their sunflower butter cookie. One day…

 

Another day, another brunch – here, Seline and I savoured meals at Sole. I had the vegetable crepe, which was loaded with spinach, kale, mushrooms, and goat cheese, then topped with a vodka spaghetti sauce and zucchini/squash ribbons. The best part? Fresh pastries – banana bread and pumpkin seed muffins – before the meal. I love pastries as you can see.

 

Random things from here and there:

  • spaghetti squash with Thai green curried vegetables
  • Mom’s homemade cranberry chocolate cookies
  • drew some anatomical structures on Seline!

 

Seline and I LOVE Red House, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo. Here, I had a beautiful turkey sandwich on potato chive bread (butternut squash aioli was to die for) and a bowl of caramelized onion and golden beet soup. For dessert, I enjoyed the deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which had white chocolate mousse, berry compute, sugar cookie – which I believe should’ve been puff pastry – and lemon curd. Seline had the truffled lamb spaghetti.

 

Snapshots from aerial silks recently.

 

Attending a fun conference at the University of Waterloo!

 

And bits and pieces of volunteering, the fall term with cooler weather, and school stuff. Plus EYE MAKEUP (?!) that my sister experimented on me, for my aerial silks showcase performance.

 

Things from my Notes on my computer.

 

And a couple tasty meals.

 

That’s all I have for ya – wish I could share something more exciting, but every day has just been school, home, school, home, etc. Have a lovely rest of the week!

October | Sky-High Carrot Cake

Hello! Short post today, because I have a couple emails to write and some schoolwork to catch up on. It is really crazy how quickly my courses are progressing, now that I’m in a number of upper-level kinesiology courses. I’ve learned so much in the three-ish weeks of school that we’ve had so far.

  • AWESOME pic that one of my friends shared on FB. Credit to the artist; unfortunately I couldn’t find his or her name. I like this piece because it shows which animals the poses are named for. I particularly like the peacock and the locust.
  • Bubble tea at CoCo is on sale until the end of November, so I will have to make sure my sister and I get some!
  • Mom made Caprese salad at home in BC, because she bought some new balsamic vinegar. It looks so good! I love that combo of flavours.
  • Campus on a sunny afternoon
  • Images from Nutrition in Disguise, one of the research groups that I’m involved with
  • And more…

Seline and I had a meal at Symposium last Sunday. It was my first time at Symposium Cafe, but I’ve heard too many good things about their cake to miss out. I devoured the whole thick slice of SKY-HIGH CARROT CAKE, and Seline had the triple chocolate cake. After this lovely meal, I went to my friend’s house for a potluck.

Symposium Cafe Mediterranean salad with salmon // sky-high carrot cake

Another day, Sal and I went to Red House. Red House is one of my favourite Waterloo spots. They have phenomenal salads, soups, pastas, and entrees. Their desserts are always seasonal, and really unique. This time, I had the butternut squash and coconut soup, followed by fried polenta cubes with a beet and goat cheese salad. For dessert, Seline and I shared two: apple crisp with sharp cheddar ice cream and a unique white chocolate cheesecake with Oreo crust and stewed strawberries and figs.

Ennio’s noodles with gorgonzola sauce, seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic (unpictured, but quite tasty) // bread pudding with Nutella, vanilla ice cream

Hands-down the BEST bread pudding I have ever eaten in my life.

I had a midterm last week, and a few more coming up. A lot of studying needs to be done!

The Halloween showcase at Brass Butterflies aerial studio is coming up, and I have been procrastinating on practicing. I need to get back into working on improving my endurance.

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A quick video from aerials:

And some pics that Seline helped me take for my Instagram. I made an Instagram for my job, because I’m working as a Waterloo Warriors Recreation Ambassador this term. So if you’re reading this, you can follow me too. 😉 _cindywei

Things that scare me but I’m doing them anyways this term:

  • research
  • starting a club
  • presenting in front of lecture halls of first-year students
  • aerial performance
  • skating competition
  • teaching a yoga class

Random meal from recently:

  1. Seline’s steak with potatoes, sautéed green beans, and onions
  2. Veggie bean chili with cheddar and fig goat cheese
  3. Vegetable cheddar enchiladas with roasted delicata squash
  4. Quiche with sautéed green beans

More randomness:

  1. Saw this stunning image of rice paddies on Twitter (or Reddit?), and it made me think of the time that I took a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, riding past miles of rice paddies. Absolutely incredible, and even more so in person.
  2. A bitmoji that Seline made for me. It’s now my Twitter pic. I’m really a loser, as you can see.
  3. Seline and I went to Menchies the other day because we had a 2-for-1 discount coupon from the mail. My Menchies bowl included chocolate brownie, cheesecake pieces, peanut butter crisp, a malted chocolate ball, cereal, and more. I’m all about the toppings ^_^
  4. Sometimes, between classes, I find Seline and we spend a few hours relaxing, “studying”, and chatting at an on-campus cafe. The other day, I was SO. TIRED. that I slept with my head right on the table.

We made quite a special meal the other day!

Thai green curry with broccoli, onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, yellow bell pepper // rotisserie chicken breast // rice cooked with butter, chicken broth, truffle salt // garlic sautéed green beans

Now, I just have a bunch of recipes for things I baked recently:

Chai-spiced Applesauce Prune Baked Oats

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • drizzle honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 3 chai tea bags
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 15 prunes, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease pan – 8 x 10 up to 10 x 10 are perfect sizes.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer. Cut open tea bags, and allow tea to simmer in the milk for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves.
  4. Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Oat Bars

  • tasted good, but need to add more condensed milk and a splash of oil to the chocolate filling
  • more butter in the crumble
  • double the crumble next time!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (will increase to 2 cups next time)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (will increase to 1 cup next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (will increase to 1/2 tsp next time)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (will increase to 1.5 cups next time)
  • 1/4 cup oil (will increase to 1/2 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (will increase to 2 tsp next time)
  • 1 egg (will increase to 2 eggs next time)
  • 2 tbsp quick oats (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 2 tbsp softened butter (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat chocolate chips and milk in 1-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; set aside. Heat oven to 350°. Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour, oats, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; set aside. Stir brown sugar, oil, vanilla and egg in medium bowl with fork until smooth; stir into flour mixture until blended. Reserve 1/2 cup dough in small bowl for topping.
  3. Pat remaining dough in pan (lightly flour fingers if dough is sticky). Spread chocolate mixture over dough. Add 2 tablespoons oats and the butter to reserved dough; mix with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Drop small spoonfuls of oat mixture evenly over chocolate mixture.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden and firm. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

Brownies, inspired by Allrecipes

Makes 36 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cups butter
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour large square pans.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla.
  5. Whisk in cocoa, cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  6. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins. Do not overcook. Cut.

Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Snack Bread

Serves 12 squares

Blender Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium bananas, ripe
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp PB2
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • large sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blend all ingredients from the “Blender Ingredients” section.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Let cool overnight before cutting, or it will be too tender to hold form. Store cooled leftovers in a covered container for up to several days, though best when fresh. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.

Life Back in School

Good afternoon! This week has been a good one, and since I’m back in school, busy. Good thing I like school.

Last night, I made applesauce baked oatmeal that I could bring with me to school as a yummy lunch. I like this recipe because it isn’t too sweet, but has great flavour from the applesauce, cinnamon, and vanilla. I ate this today during lecture, topped with Greek yogurt and PB2.

Applesauce Baked Oatmeal

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • drizzle honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 15 prunes, chopped (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease pan – 8 x 10 up to 10 x 10 are perfect sizes.
  3. Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes.

Over the weekend, I went to the MaRS Discovery District in downtown Toronto, where I had fun reuniting with friends from universities across Ontario. I loved the challenges, mini competitions, jobs fair session, and inspiring talks.

 

With all of the University of Waterloo people!

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(Photo credit: Giordano Ciampini)

Few things from recently:

  1. Cute message from Mom
  2. Incredible sunsets from our home on the 18th floor
  3. Seline’s typical dinner: pan-fried chicken breast with Minute Rice
  4. Yoga poses and skating poses that I think are so beautiful

 

Back to skating! I skated a few times last week, early morning. The sessions start at 7:00 and end at 8:30. Afterwards, I like to have a hot tea latte and do schoolwork while eating a snack. This time, I had pumpkin oat bread with yogurt and almond butter. Here is the recipe.

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Bars with Chocolate Chips

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree from a can
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together all ingredients.
  3. Bake 45 mins.
  4. Serve!

 

I love skating so much, even though my jumps aren’t here any more. It just feels nice to be on the ice.

 

More things from recently:

  1. Seline’s academic schedule for this term
  2. Powerful tweets
  3. University of Waterloo Warriors Recreation app menu
  4. frsh, a vegan restaurant that just opened up at our school’s health building

 

More randy stuff.

 

A great recipe I made some changes to – they turned out firmer than I’d expected, still absolutely delicious when heated up and served with nut butter and/or yogurt. I love this recipe so much, and it doesn’t hurt that you only need ONE bowl.

Chocolate Banana Cake Squares {Vegan}

Serves: 1 9×9 pan

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 CUP HONEY
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1/4 CUP WATER
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TSP LIME JUICE
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • HEAPING ¼ tsp salt
  • Sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
  • ¼ heaping cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 CUP ALL-PURPOSE, 1/2 CUP BUCKWHEAT, 1/4 CUP ALMOND MEAL
  • 1/2 CUP CHOCOLATE CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. LINE 9X9 PAN WITH PARCHMENT PAPER.
  3. BLEND BANANAS WITH WATER AND APPLESAUCE IN A BLENDER. ADD OTHER WET INGREDIENTS AND MIX UNTIL THOROUGHLY COMBINED.
  4. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt just until combined.
  5. MIX IN CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
  6. Pour batter into prepared dish.
  7. Bake for 35-37 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, slice in 16 squares, and serve.

Another day last week, I made a massive batch of vegetable chili. This made a TON of tasty, healthy, hearty chili. I love serving chili with sweet potato (roasted) or rice cooked in chicken broth, and of course, freshly-grated cheddar. Fresh lime juice on top also makes a big difference.

Cindy’s Ultimate Pumpkin Veggie Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 small chopped carrots
  • minced garlic
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 carton mushrooms
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • juice of a lime
  • toppings?
  • SPICES AND HERBS
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil and saute all vegetables with chili powder. Add salt.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients, except lime. Season with remaining spices. Stir in pumpkin.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Stir in lime juice and serve.

Every Wednesday, Seline and I have a sister’s dinner out. This time, we went to Bauer Kitchen. The dessert sweet board was the highlight, including warm chocolate cake with chocolate fondue sauce and chocolate gelato, pear cheesecake, creme brûlée with blueberries, and carrot cake with pistachio sauce. I liked all of it and had no problem eating it all by myself because Seline doesn’t like dessert. 🙂

 

Couple of aerials things! I played around on the hoop for the first time in a very long time yesterday.

 

And reviewed a couple of old skills, like this one, on the silks.

 

That’s it for today since I’ve got a busy weekend!

Back in BC

Hello! I just got my wisdom tooth out. It was the second tooth that I had removed. My first one came out about two years ago.

Here is a flashback to Prince Edward Island. This was my office at the University of Prince Edward Island, and the dinner that we had on our last day. Seline ate the chicken masala skillet, and I had a lovely summer salad, a piece of pan-fried Atlantic salmon, and a great bowl of chowder. Seline and I shared the cinnamon roll on a skillet, topped with vanilla ice cream, for dessert. This was a great dinner from Fishbones.

This is our bedroom and bathroom, which we will be very sad to leave. We loved living in Charlottetown, and we will miss our lovely room and washroom.

Some final moments in downtown Charlottetown, including pics from our daily walk home. I always feel so connected with the PLACES that we visit, and I don’t want to forget the little mundane details.

Before our flight, Seline and I ate sandwiches. Her sandwich, unpictured, was a pesto chicken ciabatta from Receiver Coffee. I had a turkey and harvarti sandwich on multigrain bread from Leonhard’s Restaurant and Cafe. This great sandwich was loaded with a lot of turkey, mixed greens, and mustard dressing.

Things We Did (and Didn’t) Do in Charlottetown

NEVER GOT TO SEE

  • Papa Joe’s
  • Hopyard Beer Bar (fries, pub food)
  • The Chip Shack
  • Terry Berries 20 Great George St, 11-7 hours

RESTAURANTS WE’VE ALREADY VISITED

  • COWS (ice cream) x6
  • Leonhard’s (breakfast and lunch) x4
  • Himalayan Indian Cuisine x4
  • Dairy Queen x4
  • Small Print Board Game Cafe x3
  • Pilot House x3
  • Brakish x2
  • Piatto Pizzeria
  • Dave’s Lobster Charlottetown
  • John Brown Grille
  • Beanz Espresso Bar and Cafe
  • Fishies on the Roof
  • Lobster on the Wharf
  • Merchantman Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar (S favourite)
  • Receiver Coffee Co.
  • The Gahan House
  • Terre Rouge (brunch; dinner)
  • The Dining Room at the Culinary Institute
  • Mavor’s
  • La Sazon de Mexico
  • Fishes on the Roof / Fishbones
  • Row House Lobster Co.
  • Kettle Black
  • Water Prince Corner Shop
  • Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar
  • Claddagh Oyster House
  • Cedar’s Eatery
  • Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar (S favourite)
  • RedWater Rustic Grille

We were very happy to see family when we got back home. We were also happy to go to Ikea! We love Ikea.

Arnie didn’t really miss me, but he was really cute.

For the first few days back in BC, we had plenty of errands to run. Often, I ate waffles in the morning and then we’d go to places like Home Depot.

Mom’s cooking is always a delight. The other day, she made corn on the cob with butter, sautéed garlic green beans, scrambled eggs with shrimp, and chicken thighs sautéed with mushrooms and onions.

One of my good friends from UPEI will come to Vancouver soon. We might have vegan high tea in Vancouver together.

I also had time to go skating! It was nice to be back on the ice and skate around in circles. I want to skate for the University of Waterloo varsity figure skating team in September, but I don’t have my doubles any more.

Another couple of great dinners cooked up with family:

  1. Chicken florentine rolls with asparagus, feta, spinach // roasted baby potatoes // garlic and cheddar pita // brown butter sage mushroom quinoa risotto
  2. Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce // homemade cheesy onion bread // sautéed garlic green beans // gratin dauphinoise

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 200g button mushrooms (white), sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1in pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and butter in large frying pan.
  2. Cook mushrooms for 5 minutes until brown.
  3. Add onion. Cook for 2-3 mins until soft.
  4. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Remove vegetables from pan. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.
  6. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in the pan.
  7. Season flour heavily with salt and pepper. Toss chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
  8. Cook chicken for 8-10 mins, turning, until golden all over.
  9. Add stock, sage, and boil.
  10. Add mushroom mixture. Simmer 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces.
  11. Add cream. Cook 2-3 mins until chicken is cooked and sauce is thick and creamy.

Gratin Dauphinoise

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tbsp softened butter
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Finely slice potatoes.
  3. Rub 8×8 deep-sided ovenproof dish with butter.
  4. Spread in half the potatoes.
  5. Sprinkle with garlic. Season, and arrange potatoes nicely on top.
  6. Pour in the cream. You should just be able to see the cream coming up around the edges.
  7. Dot the top with remaining butter.
  8. Put dish on large baking sheet.
  9. Cook in centre of the oven for 1 hour, until potatoes are soft, cream has evaporated, and top is golden.
  10. Rest 10 minutes before serving.

This chocolate cake was on my to-bake list for a long time, and we finally made it! It stuck to the pan, but was still really delicious.

Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 130g quinoa, 1.5 cups water (or 2 1/4 cups cooked)
  • melted coconut oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup orange juice from 1 orange
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 300g sugar
  • 80g dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 55g bittersweet (70%) chocolate

GLAZE

  • 140g bittersweet (70%) chocolate
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, careful when adding

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil quinoa and water over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Cover saucepan. Cook quinoa until liquid is absorbed. It should be funny cooked and not crunchy.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the greased pan. Shake the pan to remove excess starch.
  4. Place quinoa in a blender. Add orange juice, eggs, vanilla, oil, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Process until mixture is very smooth.
  5. Melt chocolate over a double boiled. Add chocolate to quinoa batter and process until well-mixed. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Bake 50 mins, or until skewer comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool 10 mins. Turn it out of the pan onto a wire cooling rack. Let it cool on the rack.
  7. Melt chocolate for glaze in a double boiler. Add oil and vanilla. Whisk well. Let glaze sit 5 mins. Whisk it again. Use silicone spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  8. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers airtight at room temperature.

One more new-ish dinner – creamy salmon pasta.

Salmon Pasta

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • dried pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 3.5 oz heavy cream
  • salmon
  • 1 tbsp chopped capers
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fry salmon. Break into pieces.
  2. Cook pasta in large pan of salted water.
  3. Mix cream with capers, lemon zest, and dill. Season heavily.
  4. Drain pasta. Reserve 1 ladle of cooking water.
  5. Return pasta to pan with water.
  6. Toss sauce with pasta. Add shredded salmon. Stir enough to mix. Add parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve with more parmesan.

That’s pretty much it for now.

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Have a good rest of the week.

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!

Dreamy December

Good morning, everyone!

A beautiful walk one Saturday afternoon led to some great photos by the creek. Scarborough is so hilly and dotted with lovely ponds, streams, and bridges. Everything looks different than it did in September, since the leaves are all gone. It’s so charming and I bet it’s just as beautiful when draped in snow. The biodiversity here in Ontario is subtly different from the plants and wildlife in BC, so I always find the scenery so dreamy and enchanted.

My friend introduced me to this blog, The Girly MD, written by a medical student at the University of Toronto. She is such a role model, and I look up to her hard work and dedication. Her fresh recipes, inspiring affirmations, and honest reflections are so wonderful. In fact, her recent post about self-love motivated me to put on a face mask. Face masks feel great, and I love this tea tree oil one from The Body Shop. It is truly refreshing and deep-cleansing, and my face feels smoother and cool/tingly after I wash it off.

(I haven’t seen my hair curly for years – if I leave it in a bun for a day, lo and behold: CURLS)

Seven more days before I’m done with the Basement Life! 😎 I need windows. At the same time, though, I’m going to miss my current place and all the quiet/privacy that I get with having my own bedroom, bathroom, and “kitchen” (i.e. a sink and a table with a burner). It will be nice, though, when I soon get a table and chair that are more ergonomic since this chair is too high for the table. Or perhaps the table is too low for the chair.

The doors are now decorated! My office is the door with the paper X-ray Santa, and my coworker, Rikki, decorated hers with the gingerbread man. The Math Drop-in centre was designed and created by Erin, who painstakingly cut and taped each triangle. We love our Christmas decorations, and the students think they are pretty cool, too.

This weekend is going to be a cold one. In fact, next week will be really chilly, with a chance of snow. I can’t believe I have seven more days in Scarborough before I go back home to BC. For some reason, I feel like I’m not ready to leave yet – my students aren’t finished their course, and the semester isn’t done until mid-January because of the Ontario college strike.

On a different note, I helped my sister make a flyer for her high school Christmas Spirit Week. I made the one with the red ornaments and gold WordArt, while she painted the real Spirit Week poster below. Seline is the Project Manager in her school’s Student Government team, and I have no idea how she does it all. Did I mention that Seline is also an avid painter, photographer, pianist, and poet?

Here’s a little snapshot of her newest poem, a haiku that she published on her blog (Purely Poetic) a few days ago.

The rivers are stagnant,

and the mountains stand up tall,

in the air of Fall.

And finally, I received my approved Visa for my trip to Brisbane! In mid-February (after my dad, grandfather, and I visit Cambodia in January), I will start a 5-month semester at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Aside from the snakes, spiders, and the daunting endeavour of figuring out Australian currency, I am super excited. I started an Australia page on the blog for the trip, but so far, I only have a few lists.

I had some time to read this morning, and spent some time composing this list of links that I found and enjoyed. I liked putting this list together, and hopefully get the chance to do it more often in the future.

Things I Loved Reading Recently

Hope everyone has a beautiful, cozy weekend. I’m planning to go downtown on Sunday, which may potentially be my last time downtown for a while since I’m going back to BC in a week!

Until next time 💀🎄🍰