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

BC, I’ve Missed You ❤

I’ve missed having big, fluffy blueberry-studded pancakes topped with the creamiest nut butter and a smattering of more fresh blueberries.

So much, in fact, that I had this breakfast three days in a row. Half a mashed banana in the batter makes quite the difference for texture and subtle sweetness, in my opinion.

I made banana pancakes another morning, bunny-style. Pretty proud of how these turned out, in terms of taste and presentation!

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Seline is a fabulous artist, and she persuaded me to do some doodling with her. We drew the same picture of a goddess character from her favourite anime, Seven Deadly Sins. My rendition is on the left, and hers is on the right.

My mom cooked Hainanese chicken rice another day, which we enjoyed with braised broccoli and carrots.

We played with the aerial silks at the Vancouver Circus School, went to the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in Coquitlam, and looked over LaFarge Lake.

More delicious Hainanese chicken rice was devoured. This is one of my favourite versions of chicken + rice. I love Chinese bok choy, stir-fried with garlic.

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There is always a plethora of cookies and baked goods in the Wei family home. Here, I have dessert: yogurt with a blueberry-banana muffin top, lemon poppyseed muffin, cream cheese pound cake, and a coconut cookie.

Mom is looking so cute here as she cooks. Seline put a removable tattoo on my wrist, and I think it’s fun to look at.

Mom makes a great winter melon stew with krill, as well as braised chicken drumsticks with taro chunks. I adore taro. Do you like taro? Have you tried it in sweet and savoury dishes?

More dessert: I made an Earl Grey cake on my second day home, and that was super flavourful and crumbly. On the right: cream cheese pound cake turned into French toast for one breakfast, topped with a generous smear of Nutella.

This morning, my breakfast consisted of a large mug of unpictured English Breakfast tea latte, and a big plate of two scrambled eggs, baked treats, a chopped peach, and creamy honey-flavoured yogurt with flaxseeds and blueberries. Breakfast was followed by a little too much nibbling on shortbread cookies.

The family doggie turned nine a few weeks ago, but he is still full of energy. He loves the park!

Yesterday, met up with the grandparents in Burnaby, where we ordered lots of great sushi. My favourite rolls are the Aburi flame-seared ones.

This is completely out of place, as it’s from back in Waterloo – Famoso Pizzeria, where I savoured this great Cavoletti pizza with (get this!) toasted walnuts, chopped dates, honey, crispy prosciutto, brussels sprouts, and gorgonzola. For my side, I chose a salad topped with Caprese ingredients – mozzarella, tomato, and pistachio pesto.

With tiramisu and a scoop of salted caramel gelato. Yummmm. Tiramisu is amongst (among?) my top five favourite desserts.

Rouzao rice is a Taiwanese specialty that my mom cooks once in a while. It’s essentially a stew of ground pork and pork belly, spiced with soy sauce, star anise, onions, and garlic.

A couple nights ago, my family and I went to the Richmond Night Market, where Seline and I shared a carton of takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls), and I had a bag of sesame bubble waffles and a taiyaki (Korean fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean).

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on our vacation plans. My family is going to Salt Spring Island in two weeks, so I am very excited about all the activities we’ll be doing.

With a mug of tea, I spend some mornings designing the activities of each day. It’s such a short vacation (~3 days total), but so much to do there.

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I can’t wait to go to a public skating session. Skating is great in the summer, in my opinion.

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Yesterday, I feasted on the most delicious homemade crepe I’ve made. Here’s the super simple recipe:

Easy Nutella Banana Crepes

Serves 1

Crepe INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Topping INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp Nutella

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all crepe ingredients.
  2. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Pour batter into large pan and rotate pan in circular motion so batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes, until bottom is cooked. Flip and cook the other side.
  4. Place crepe on a cutting board and generously spread Nutella on the entire crepe. Top with sliced banana, fold, and place on a plate. Decorate with more banana slices.

NOTE: You can place banana slices on the center third of the crepe and then fold the two sides over, or place bananas on 1/4 of the crepe and do two half-folds.

I also baked up a storm!

These lopsided round-ish treats are muffin tops that I found via Evangeline on Nutrition with a Mission, who discovered them on Athletic Avocado. I made a couple small changes here and there:

Blueberry Banana Muffin Tops

Makes 6 large, 12 small

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packed cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used a mix of brazil nut and cashew nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup crushed nuts (I used a mix of roasted nuts from Costco, like cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine almond butter, egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and banana in a bowl. Whisk until well-combined. Add a splash of water or milk if needed.
  4. Add almond flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix in blueberries, and combine.
  5. Mix all topping ingredients together.
  6. Spoon batter into 6 large or 12 smaller muffin tops.
  7. Bake muffin tops for 20 minutes, or until done.

I also made these tasty lemon poppyseed muffins.

Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 5 tbsp water)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line a standard muffin tin.
  2. Prepare flax eggs. Allow to rest.
  3. Add applesauce, lemon juice and zest, oil, almond milk, maple syrup, sugar, baking soda, salt, and whisk for one minute. Foaming will occur as the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda.
  4. Add flour, almond meal, and oats. Stir with a spoon until combined. Do not over-mix. If batter appears too thick, add more almond milk. It should be thick and not pourable. Stir in poppy seeds and whisk again.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for several minutes in the pan. Remove from tins, and let cool on a cooling rack. Will keep, covered, for several days.

The muffins, and the muffin tops, were both incredible. If you have a day in the kitchen, I highly recommend giving them a shot!

Another recipe I tried, adopted heavily from Allrecipes to reduce sugar (original was 2 cups), and swap 75% of the oil for unsweetened applesauce.

German Apple Cake

Serves one 9×13, can cut into 12 medium-sized pieces

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 heaping cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used 4 gala apples)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9×13 inch cake pan.
  2. Toss diced apples with a scoop of flour to coat (prevents sinking).
  3. Beat oil and eggs until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add cinnamon, baking soda, then salt.
  5. Add flour, and mix until combined. Fold in the apples.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until cake tests clean.

Have a beautiful week, everyone ❤

Balanced Dinners Lately

Happy St-Patrick’s Day guys! How are you all?

I started this lovely Tuesday with a 5:20 AM alarm clock (okay, that part wasn’t lovely), gulped down some water, then headed to Goodlife Fitness Centre for a 6:00 AM hot yoga class! I had a new teacher this time; her name was Antonella and she was awesome. Totally committed, helpful, and gave great pointers for beginners like me. This was my fourth hot yoga class and I’m definitely finding it easier and easier every time. But still super hot. :mrgreen:

Here are some of the dinners we’ve had! Many of them are Mom Dinners <– haven’t updated that page in a while and I really should!

Party meal featuring Chinese chicken sesame salad, maple-soy salmon, roasted veggies, roasted potatoes with ketchup, and stir-fried vegetables. Plus two mounds of rice 🙂

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This fried rice was made with leftover maple-soy salmon and it was INCREDIBLE! The sweet soy sauce made the rice so addictive and tasty. We added an egg and some spinach to wilt before topping it all with toasted sesame seeds. You must try this if you have leftover fish – just flake it up and toss it into your fried rice at the last minute.

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Mom made a casserole the other day, with a homemade creamy bechamel sauce. I wasn’t too crazy about this dish but the chicken was really tender! Served with a hairbrush and some plastic containers on our messy living room table. Sorry.

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This was a Greek-inspired meal with garlicky yogurt-baked chicken, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes (yup, those whitish rectangular prisms that look pretty freaky), and some roasted broccoli. We love roasted potatoes + veggies here! Oh and I dipped my potatoes in tzatziki to complement the tasty Greek chicken drumsticks.

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Rotisserie chicken from Costco on top of quinoa with spinach, corn, and scallions. This is my go-to meal and I absolutely love it!

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A lighter lunch another day.  These were toasted multigrain flats smeared with mashed avocado and topped with shredded chicken breast and white cheddar. Broiled to melt the cheese and then devoured!

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This is great because it’s super fast and filling. I’m not a fan, however, of these multigrain rounds. They’re too chewy, even after you toast them. I wouldn’t recommend making this with 100-calorie rounds because they are really toothsome and simply aren’t substantial. Try it out with whole wheat bread, maybe. It would rock with feta cheese, eggs, and spinach too.

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This fancy-ish looking dinner was spaghetti in rose sauce from Costco (tomato and creamy mascarpone cheese). Whenever eating pasta, I try to add as many veggies as possible to improve the colour, nutrition, and filling-power of my plate. This was spiked with steamed broccolette, broccoli’s quiet little cousin, carrots, and chopped tomatoes.

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I can’t have pasta without tons of parmesan cheese. Believe me, I added heavy sprinkles of that salty, addictive stuff after these photos were taken 🙂 Freshly-ground black pepper is a must, too!

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I usually use a little plate (salad or dessert-sized) for scrumptious dinners like this, because I know I have a bit of a problem with overeating – especially when it comes to pasta, my kryptonite! Check out my plate (left) with my sister’s regular-sized plate devoid of veggies. 😥

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Aunt Mimi gave us a lemon meringue pie from Whole Foods, which we enjoyed. I loved the crust, but I’m not really a fan of lemony desserts. Am I the only one who feels like desserts = sweet = chocolate? I’d much rather have some creamy chocolate gelato or CAKE (bonus if it’s chocolate). But most of the time, it’s a couple bites a homemade, nutritious baked good. You can check out my faves here!

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More coconut chicken curry with spinach and peas, this time served on coconut basmati rice and with steamed broccolette on the side. By the way, we get our broccolette from Costco – it’s organic and really easy to cook. My mom boils it for 3 minutes to make it all tender (even the stem part, which I love!) No naan bread this time. 😦

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You know how I mentioned that quinoa + spinach + corn is my go-to dinner? It truly is! I have it again here, with the addition of mushrooms and scallions. A filet of pan-fried trout on the side, plus roasted cauliflower.

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If you ever get sick of a certain veggie, try roasting it! I promise you won’t regret it. The caramelized parts are my favourite!

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My aforementioned small-plate trick didn’t really work on this day! I was super hungry after volunteering at the Eagle Ridge Hospital, and Mom had whipped up this baked penne dish with zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, and chopped chicken breast. It was mixed up with my fave tomato sauce and then topped with three types of cheese, one of them being fresh mozzarella. YUM. Roasted broccoli on the side!

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I had four plates and ate until my stomach hurt. Gooey, melty cheese is definitely the best part of pasta, but it wasn’t worth the stomachache (on a side note, I used to call it a “stummyache” – stomach + tummy). Anyways, portion control is seriously hard for me, especially when it comes to cheesy, vegetable-filled pasta.

Leftovers made a great lunch the next day – luckily there was just one bowl left. 😉

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Party dinner with Chinese chicken salad, rice, steamed veggies, rouzao rice and egg, pesto shrimp pasta salad, and roasted potatoes. Honestly it seems like we have the same 8 dishes served at every party –> proof. 🙂

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Dinner the next day had stir-fried veggies, pan-fried tilapia and leftover pesto pasta.

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And pumpkin chicken soup with spinach! I had seconds. :mrgreen:

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Tomato scrambled eggs on brown rice, with steamed veggies. Love those flower-shaped carrots, Mom!

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I don’t think I have to explain this for the 50th time… 🙂

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More pasta in that rose sauce – this time with mushrooms and spinach.

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Mom’s fried rice is just so, so good! This bowl had scrambled eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and scallions. I wanted to add about 569 other vegetables, but Seline wouldn’t touch it if I did! So we collaborated 🙂

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And… dun dun dunnn… Check out this dinner that I made 100% by myself! I’m mostly proud about washing all the dishes and drying them, too. PS: Mom Dinners still taste better. What is it about Mom’s cooking that makes food ten times better?

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One afternoon, some wooden planks fell off my Dad’s pickup and hit him 1 cm below the eye (LUCKY!), and he drove home with one eye (yup). Mom took him to the hospital, and they waited for 7 hours in Emergency! I was stuck at home with Seline and whipped up this dinner for two.

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Roasted potatoes and broccoli with parmesan, plus pan-fried salmon and a lemon wedge for the photos 🙂 Dad is much better now – he had surgery last week, and has been staying at home + taking meds for the past few days.

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P-p-p-pasta! The best family dinner, because we can’t seem to find something that we all like. 🙂 I filled my small plate with lotsa veggies (and parmesan, of course!). I just noticed this while scrolling through my post, but I think I should branch out and eat more salads. In my family, we have a lot of cooked (I just wrote ‘cookies’) vegetables, but not too many salads. Should definitely get a mixture of both into our diets 🙂

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Thanks for reading about my delicious week of healthy, pretty balanced dinners – hope you all enjoy the rest of your spring break!

Mom Dinners Galore

Hi everyone! How was your week? I hope life has been great for you this summer. Like I mentioned in my last post, summer’s on here in BC! Well… that’s in terms of school. We were burdened with heavy rain ALL DAY today, and just before dinner, we had thunder and lightning! :O Hopefully the upcoming week will have beautiful weather, because we are planning another trip to the Sandbar (seafood restaurant) in Granville Island.

Below you’ll see a chart of my recent meals and a short analysis. I have no idea why I did this – obviously I am REALLY bored this summer – but I wanted to share it anyways. Pictures of these meals are coming!

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I wanted to share a lot of old Mom Meals in this post. Our schedules have been jumbled up recently with other activities, so I actually haven’t had a Mom Meal for a while. Looking at old photos of home-cooked meals makes me so happy. 🙂

This is quinoa topped with tomato scrambled eggs (and sesame), and steamed cauliflower sauteed with ground pork and scallions. I LOVE both of these dishes. Chicken drumstick on the side… yum. I like drumsticks and thighs so much better than chicken breasts, which I find a little too dry. Dark meat is so juicy – I love it!

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This is rouzao rice, a traditional Taiwanese dish made with ground pork, soy sauce, and lots of aromatic spices like star anise and cinnamon. Mom also adds some hard-boiled tea eggs. I had a big scoop of this on top of white jasmine rice, next to some buttered corn on the cob, Chinese chicken salad with sesame dressing, and shrimp + vegetable stir-fry. This was actually a party dinner, much like this party brunch, where we have lots of food options.

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Fried rice! Again, I am in love with my mom’s fried rice. This was made with cubed trout, mixed vegetables, scallions and onions, and fluffy jasmine rice. Have you ever tried trout or salmon in fried rice?! It’s amazing. Some simple steamed broccoli on the side.

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Italian food is definitely one of my top three favourite cuisines, and I think Mom does a great job cooking it. Here we have shells topped with vegetable bolognese sauce and parmesan cheese, plus a super tasty side of roasted broccoli with garlic. The garlic gets really crispy – like garlic chips. I love ’em!

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Look at how the spinach peeks out of the side. I like to stir a little spinach or kale into the tomato sauce. The flavour mellows out and is covered by the sweet-ish and tangy tomato sauce. I have the same meal (almost) here, with noodles instead… and no broccoli. 😥

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Lots of protein in this dinner: beef and asparagus stir-fry with onions and mushrooms, pork ribs with braised carrots and daikon, and steamed edamame on rice.

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This here is Thai fried rice with shrimp and egg, garnished with peanuts. Thai fried rice, in the Wei family, is essentially the same as regular fried rice… but we add lots of minced garlic and ginger, cubed pineapple, extra onions and scallions, plus a splash of coconut milk. Oh! And we cook it in coconut oil instead of olive oil. I don’t think I will ever go back to regular fried rice! The peas are really sweet and yummy. The sweet caramelized pineapple is the best part. Love how a splash of soy sauce and a drizzle of lime take fried rice to the next level, too. Thai fried rice is so, so fragrant and ultra-flavourful. The creamy eggs, slightly coconutty rice, and crunchy chopped peanuts are to die for!

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Served with sauteed vegetables on the side. Black cloud ear fungus, bok choy, mushrooms, and carrots, stir-fried with a little soy sauce and garlic, then topped with sesame. Really tasty with the special fried rice.

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More ribs here: this time braised with carrots, firm tofu (dougan), baby shiitake mushrooms, and daikon. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these baby shiitakes. They are so juicy and… brothy? I love the rich, savoury mushroom flavour. They are great when braised in soy sauce and spices.

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We also have some broccoli sauteed with onions and scallops. These little scallops are so buttery and soft. Lastly, we’ve got a fried egg and a big scoop of jasmine rice. Of course, everything is sprinkled with sesame. I really like these photos!

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For now, that’s all I have to show you! :mrgreen: I hope you enjoyed these healthy home-cooked meals by my mom.

Recently I’ve been looking at good restaurants in Montreal, and I am so excited to go… only 12 more days until the flight. Woopeee! See you in my next post, and I hope you have a not-so-manic Monday. 😉