Lately ✿

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

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

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

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Makes 8 slices

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

INGREDIENTS

Crust

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

Pie

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

Topping

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flaky, Buttery Feta Chive Biscuits

Makes approx. 12 small scones

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

We froze some of them!

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

Prune Blondies

Makes 12 blondies

INGREDIENTS

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

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

Books to Read

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

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

Rocks

The rocky path

Illuminated by a simple

Ray of sun

No one beside

In front

or

Behind

As I glide down the hill,

wood chips sticking in my shoes.

I trot

down

the trail.

I jump

Left

to

Right,

Hopping from one rock,

to another.

Finally reaching my destination

on top of

the rock

for all to see.

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

Return of the Pretty Oats

I’ve started making my oatmeal look pretty again!

I guess it’s time to update the Oatmeal page, too.

I recently bought a little carton (is that the right word? Clamshell?) of blackberries on discount, and those little guys made their way into every oatmeal bowl.

Another day I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods and could not resist their hot bar… again.

Fried rice was also made and enjoyed along with the beautiful twinkly view of downtown Toronto. And yes, that’s a sweet potato with yogurt, granola, and peanut butter for dessert – truly a la Cassie!

Tsujiri’s is a Japanese dessert store that specializes in matcha desserts. I had the famous Tsujiri sundae to see what all the hype was about! Creamy, flavourful, and delicate, this sundae was balanced with crunchy rice puffs, chestnut, mocha, and a sakura-blossom cookie. Rachel, if you ever come to Toronto, this is the place for you!

Another day I devoured a chocolate almond croissant while walking around. I originally bought it for a breakfast treat, but it was fresh out of the oven and I couldn’t resist “just one bite” until I was left with just crumbs. This rocked my whole weekend.

This is the atrium, a beautiful mall-office hybrid next to my work building! I come here to drop off the mail once in a while.

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I had some bok choy and other Asian veggies to use up, so they were all sautéed into this quinoa stir-fry with egg, edamame, and mixed veggies. It was delicious with a soy sauce/sesame oil/sriracha/maple syrup sauce.

I’ve been craving banana baked goodies recently and made this batch of healthy squares. Made in the blender with only a few ingredients, these are nutritious, dense, and loaded with amazing banana flavour.

Blender Coconut Flour Banana Squares

Serves: 9 squares

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  2. Blend all ingredients well in the blender. Allow batter to sit for 10 mins.
  3. Pour into square pan for 40 minutes, or until top is golden and knife comes out clean.
  4. Remove and cool for 1 hour before cutting. Cut and enjoy!

They also make a delicious oatmeal topping! Don’t be fooled by the pics – I definitely had seconds and thirds of those squares. 🙂

Ice cream was also devoured. This was from Fugo’s, a specialty ice cream shop across the street from my work. Dangerous, I know. This is why I can’t bring my wallet with me to work! This scoop had Skor bits, brownie chunks, and a caramel swirl.

So my biggest revelation this week was that I am actually a gelato girl. This incredible cup was loaded with coconut gelato and black sesame gelato from Millie Creperie/Creamery. I could NOT get enough of this and will be going back ASAP. The coconut one makes me drool just thinking about it. I wish I could show you how flavourful and tasty it is!

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Sweet potato oatmeal topped with a crumbled blueberry buckwheat muffin. YUM!

The view from my place on the 31st floor. Whoa.

After silks another day, I headed to Gloria Cafe for this amazing meal. It was very unlike me to order plain tomato + cheese toast, but this sammie blew my mind. Freshly-baked bread, salt and pepper, slices of tomato, butter, and creamy cheese were whipped into this incredible panini that I’m still daydreaming about. Will definitely be going back to Gloria Cafe for more of this deliciousness. Almond tart for dessert.

Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar are so simple, but dead delicious.

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I believe that’s it for the day! Have a gorgeous Wednesday everyone 🙂

My First Week in Toronto

Good morning friends!

As some of you might know, I moved to Toronto (downtown, eek!) from Waterloo last week. It was a 2-hour drive in the snow, and now I’m all unpacked and settled. I’ve been working at the Toronto Health Centre as a clinical assistant for about a week now, and I’ve been loving the big city 🙂

A couple days ago I went to Whole Foods out of boredom and couldn’t resist the hot bar. Holy moly, y’all need to go to WF and get the mashed sweet potatoes from their hot bar. Irresistible. I was tempted to go back for more of that sweet potato mash! I also tried cauliflower rice for the first time. It’s yummy. What do you guys think?

An expensive (but oh-so-good) London Fog latte from Dineen, which is around 20 minutes from my house. Beautiful cafe with lovely breakfast baked goods and incredible drinks. This was one of the richest, tastiest tea lattes I’ve ever had. Too bad the SMALL cost me over $4. Whoa.

I also joined a new gym! This is Cirque-Ability in west Toronto. I can’t wait to start practicing here.

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I stopped by Butter Avenue while walking from dance class at the City Dance Corps and accidentally (ok intentionally) bought this creamy white chocolate cheesecake mousse. The bottom layer was filled with crunchy oat bits and raspberries. I died with every bite. AH-mazing. Worth $9? Probably. Would I get this again? Probably.

Another day I had brunch at Le Petit Dejeuner! It’s a Belgian-Canadian brunch spot that’s a hit with the locals. I nommed on these Belgian waffles that came with a poached egg and smoked salmon, as well as some sour-spicy apple slaw. Not a bad breakfast! I loved the mix of savoury, sweet, and salty flavours. That’s maple syrup in the little tin. 🙂

And you know I can’t go anywhere without trying an almond croissant! This is Milano Espresso Bar, where I was lucky to snab an almond croissant straight out of the oven. This London Fog was the biggest I’ve ever had, and every sip was scrumptious. I’m addicted to tea lattes. And croissants.

The St. Lawrence Market is another famous Toronto spot! I browsed the aisles and spoke with some vendors, and had to try one of these famous Portuguese custard tarts. It was creamy, sweet, rich, and really good. I wish I had it heated up, but it was delicious nonetheless.

I actually cooked at home?! Apparently, yes. This was a simple bowl of oats enjoyed with a smashed up sweet potato muffin and tons of peanut butter. I loved it!

Toronto’s big mall is called the Eaton Centre, and it’s massive! Their Christmas decorations are gone now, but it’s still as busy.

Yesterday, went to T&T. Asian markets are a lot of fun to browse.

Lastly, a random salad from Maman, a bakery in Toronto’s financial district. This salad was just okay, but the financier that followed?! One of the best ever. Wish I had a pic!

And that’s it for today! Have a spectacular Tuesday ❤

 

Lately

As I write this, I am chomping down on the BEST turkey sandwich I’ve ever had. I’m at Princess Cafe for the first time since last spring, and I’m devouring an incredible grilled cheese on Bavarian multigrain bread, filled with pesto, fresh mozzarella, smoked turkey, and grilled eggplant. Oh my goodness.

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I wasn’t intending to come to Princess Cafe because the soup of the day is minestrone, which I am not a huge fan of. But when I heard about the sandwich on Twitter, I knew I had to come after my Sports Psychology class ended at 12:30. So here I am, devouring a  crispy, chewing, nutty, flavourful turkey sandwich stuffed with some of the creamiest mozzarella cheese I’ve ever tasted. Mmmm! A couple bites left but I don’t want this sandwich to end!

Can never go wrong with coconut cream pie, either. I really need to find a recipe for this! Any suggestions?

Things I found on the Internet. I love the elephant-mountain ocean photo. Pictures like that always amaze me, because there’s usually so much more to anything than I can imagine. And the “stay calm” yoga photo… perfect.

One of my favourite quick and healthy comfort meal dinners – sweet potato peanut stew. This stew is made with peanut butter, broth, spinach, and sprinkled with peanuts. I enjoyed this over some nutty wild rice donated from Arsalan (thanks!). It has so much flavour from cumin, garlic, ginger, and caramelized onions.

Mom’s meals lately have been amazing! I love how much variety she always provides. Plus, her meals are super colourful. I haven’t purchased peppers for a while. Also, that steamed fish is totally drool-worthy!

I am part of Mission Nutrition, one of the University of Waterloo’s Peer Health Education teams. We have a couple of teams, like Burst Your Bubble (mental health), Leave the Pack Behind (helping smokers quit) and Hot and Spicy (sexual health). All of the teams are pretty awesome, but I’m biased when I say that I absolutely love being in Mission Nutrition! We took these whiteboard headshots on Monday to promote our Facebook page and to encourage people to follow Mission Nutrition on social media.

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More Mom Meals, in the form of tacos, salad, soup, and a stir-fry with a random hard-boiled egg. This makes me want Mexican food!

Check out these recipes from the Pulses of Canada cookbook. I love cooking with beans because of how simple it is, and these recipes look like a breeze to make and super delicious-o.

Sweet potato stew was reheated another day with some butternut squash soup from Sobeys and a piece of pita bread. This dinner was actually incredibly filling! I adore having dinners with multiple parts. The crunch from the peanuts is my favourite part, and I can’t wait to have this meal again tomorrow (sans soup because I drank the last of it today).

I believe that is it for today! Tomorrow I’m missing a day of classes to go to Toronto (Leaside/Bayview area) to do an interview at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences clinic. I hope that goes well – it would be such a dream to work as a clinical researcher there. 🙂

Off to wash my hair and then doze off. Good night!

 

 

Keep Calm and MarathON?

No, I didn’t run a marathon. Okay, it wasn’t a 10K either.

I didn’t even run.

But I ate! A lot. I like green eggs and… avocado toast?

With crumbled banana muffin and creamy yogurt with sunflower butter. This is the best bread ever, freshly-baked from Sobeys. It’s so soft and makes the perfect toasty vehicle with smashed avocadoes, nut butter + banana, or some simple butter.

For the annual Applied Health Sciences Fun Run that I am helping to coordinate, we are making these big posters for the children’s section! They will be doing a superhero-themed activity, and there will be lots of photo booth props as you can see from the top-left corner. The SUPERHERO TRAINING poster is finally now coloured and finished!

These are some of the others I drew. We have some awesome markers that make any kind of drawing look neat! The pizza one is my favourite – cartoons are always fun to design and draw. 🙂

They’ve been coloured since these photos were taken – I wish I could show you the coloured versions!

Okay, back to the food. Avocados were used again in these lovely enchiladas. I think enchiladas are little rolls of happiness. I filled mine with black beans, corn, scallions, butternut squash, and white cheddar. This medium-spicy green enchilada sauce was perfect and paired well with the salsa.

Another day I enjoyed creamy red coconut curry with zucchini, mushrooms, scallions, and a load of crushed peanuts. Quinoa bed underneath was much enjoyed as well!

Here’s a video that I made for my school’s Mission Nutrition team – it’s all about deliciousness in the form of a cheesy omelet!

Remember when I went to SLxONTARIO a couple weeks ago? Professional photographs were released the other day. I wish my camera was still in good condition. Did you notice that all my photos are now iPhone pics? And, sadly, I don’t have plans yet for buying a new camera.

The day before yesterday there were zero groceries in the house and I wanted to try Freshii, the salad bar located on King Street. Freshii is essentially “healthy fast food”. I had this mix and match bowl with tons of brown rice on the bottom and heaps of cool toppings. The verdict? It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t have it again. I liked the spicy yogurt dressing, simple tofu, and the crispy tortilla chips. Otherwise, the avocado was a little brown and had an odd, crackly texture (as if it had been frozen), the toasted almonds weren’t toasted, and I didn’t like how they used canned corn and cold mushrooms. I also wish I’d been given more spinach! The bowl, however, was insanely filling. However, it cost $15, which is more than a soup and sandwich at Princess Cafe would cost – in my opinion, $15 is too much for a fast-food bowl.

After Freshii, I went to Chatime and chugged a milk pudding tea so quickly that I felt like I was going to vomit for the next couple of hours. That’s me looking super, super sick while messaging my sister…

Just kidding! She got mad at me because I put her silly faces online.

Interviews start NEXT WEEK! I applied for 34 jobs, most of which are physiotherapy assistant positions. Yesterday, I put my interview outfit through for a little dress rehearsal and was surprised to find it quite comfortable. I normally wear a skirt to interviews, so I was pleasantly surprised by how these dress pants felt. Do you have any go-to interview dress tips?

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Dinner last night was quinoa with zucchini and mushrooms, plus some amazing spicy sweet potato chips and goat cheese donated by the roomie 🙂 This dinner was so filling, but I nibbled on sweets afterwards anyways.

Ending with some randomness that has been my life recently. Second-year life?

And off I go to nibble on some more sunflower butter!

From Caves to Cheesecakes

Yesterday started with a hike through the forest – in Horne Lake Provincial Park.

We donned flashlight helmets and ventured into the dark, cold caves. It was only 8 degrees Celsius in there! I wish I’d worn a sweater. The pitch-blackness (with lights turned off) was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I liked the stalactites!

We got to see a rock formation that looked like a tiny Buddha sitting on a rock in a clear, still pool.

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After the 2-hour tour and walk through the forest, caves, and back, we devoured our lunches at Mad Chef Cafe. Everyone went for burgers and fries. My dad claimed that this was his favourite meal of the trip! He had the ‘Animals Taste Good’ burger with brie, bacon, ham, and chicken breast.

Mom and I shared this “small” salad, which was topped with berries, oat and nut clusters, fried brie, salmon, avocado, sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers, and beet spirals. Can you believe this was a SMALL? We both ate until we were stuffed, and even then, there were leaves left over. Thank goodness we didn’t choose the large!

After, we visited the beautiful Nymph Falls, where we watched some experienced locals dive into the rushing, clear waves.

Seal Bay was our next destination, a beautiful place full of rocks and miles of sea. We were the only people on the whole coastline!

Dinner was incredible. At 7:00, we settled into Locals Restaurant in Courtenay. We were so lucky to get FREE food – sushi rolls with tuna tataki and freshly-baked wheat bread with butter. Mom and I shared a piece of perfectly-cooked halibut wrapped with crispy prosciutto, a delicious filet that came with vegetables and crispy polenta. The polenta was my absolute favourite thing – creamy, cheesy, and so delicious.

Dessert was equally good – we had the Forget Me Not cake, which was chocolate mousse and ganache. The coconut cheesecake came with whipped cream and mango puree. Both were perfect – and the mousse cups that ended our meal made me so happy. Because they were free. 😉

After a long drive back to the hotel, we all passed out on the bed and slept like rocks. 🙂