The Best Food Court Meal I’ve Ever Had

Hey, hey, hey! Quick update on everything, now that September is coming to a close.

Yes, I know that many of my previous posts were flashbacks to my short time at home in BC. And as much as I wish I was back in BC, chowing on croissants every morning, I’m actually living in Scarborough, a quiet, academic suburb of Toronto. You might remember the little tour post that I did of my room/bathroom/kitchen and my office at work.

Remember my day at SLXCA in downtown Toronto? On the same day, I went to the Kensington Market, where I stopped at Hibiscus Cafe and devoured this buckwheat crepe with brie, roasted apples, pecans, arugula, and avocado. Super beautiful, yes, but the flavours needed a little something (maybe pepper?).

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Most of my eats at home have been simple, but oh-so-delicious. This quiche was from the farmer’s market, and I’ve been purchasing one little one every week. Truly the best crust I’ve ever had.

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Soups have also been making regular appearances, along with scones.

I found out recently that the uwaterloolife Instagram account featured me! I’ve seen my paragliding photo from Nepal 2016 used in several University of Waterloo Study Abroad advertisements. I was thrilled to see this post, shared with me by a friend, since I don’t have my own Instagram.

Pumpkin seeds, guys! Why did it take me so long to fall in love with them?

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On a tragic note, I finished all my sunflower butter. I suppose that merits another trip to Trader Joe’s once I return to BC? 😏

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Life at the college has been good, too. My students, for the most part, have been incredibly dedicated, well-prepared, and ready to learn and work hard. Thank you ❤

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Check out this stunning stretch that I walk down, each time I go to the Dollarama, Bulk Barn, and Food Basics plaza. Gorgeous, right? I had no idea that Scarborough would be so dramatically different from downtown Toronto.

Dollarama is a lifesaver. I love my soft slippers and the Halloween decorations that I purchased for my office. It’s never too early for Halloween, if you ask me.

Now this! O-M-G (part 1). On Saturday, I visited Scarborough Town Centre, the local mall, where I enjoyed this amazing lunch from Naan&Kebab. You see, I was expecting a greasy, sticky mess with dry, hard pieces of chicken, and perhaps a couple limp leaves.

Nope, nope, nope. What did I get instead?

  • two generously-sized pieces of piping hot, toasted naan bread
  • a large helping of basmati rice cooked in savoury beef broth, mixed with shredded carrots and plenty of plump, juicy raisins
  • six large, tender, flavourful and spiced chunks of chicken
  • a creamy, rich, and spiced just-right chickpea stew
  • romaine lettuce, red cabbage, mixed vegetables, and two types of salsa, with a creamy spiced yogurt on top

For less than $12. I tried to save half for a future meal, but I knew after my first few bites that it wasn’t happening – it was too fresh and tasty, so I happily finished it all. Next time, I’m going to try the paneer version!

Sweet Jesus is pretty much a legend in Toronto. Everyone knows about it, and most people have tried it. Well, on Saturday, I got to see what the hype was all about. I chose the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream. A generous drizzle of Nutella was artfully drizzled on top of the soft serve, and the entire thing was coated in crunchy chopped pistachios and cornflakes. The soft serve itself reminded me of Costco ice cream. My only complaint is that it was physically hard to eat, simply because of the size of the ice cream compared to the size of the cup. It got pretty messy, but I should have asked for a larger cup, or at least some napkins.

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The same day, I cooked up a vegetarian chili for dinner.

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 1.5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery (I omitted since I didn’t find any)
  • 1 scant tbsp chili powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid, chopped or crushed
  • 10+ oz kidney beans
  • 10+ oz black beans
  • 5+ oz whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • black pepper
  • cayenne
  • cinnamon
  • 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 tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, and corn. Season with remaining spices. Stir in pumpkin.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

The chili itself was a winner! These are some of the topping ideas that I’ll be using next time. This time, I kept it simple with some shredded cheddar.

TOPPINGS

  • cheddar cheese (personal favourite)
  • sour cream, creme fraiche, or thick plain yogurt
  • lime
  • avocado
  • cornbread
  • rice

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I saw some kind of list about Top 10 Fall Soups (or something!), and had the urge to create a big pot of chicken and wild rice soup. Since I didn’t want to buy and cook chicken, I subbed in an entire carton of white mushrooms. I really enjoyed this soup, especially on the second day with extra salt.

Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Serves 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp butter, or oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • shallot
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until tender, about 7 mins. Add mushrooms and shallot.
  3. Stir in garlic clove. Cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add flour until dissolved.
  4. Slowly stir in milk, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently until thickened. Add broth, wild rice, parsley, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaf.
  7. Serve!

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And that’s pretty much it for today! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Saturday Things // Wild Rice // Packing for Paris

Yesterday morning started with a deliciously juicy and flavourful peach from the farmer’s market. I love soft, ripe peaches. This one tasted better than candy! I also had some leftover frittata, reheated in our toaster oven. Frittatas are even better the second day, in my opinion. The goat cheese forms a yummy crust, and the eggs set some more, so it’s a bit firmer. This was a great light breakfast (probably equal to some regular person’s normal-sized breakfast!) before going to Wild Rice for a family lunch.

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Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, and I ordered hot lemon water to start. I loved the way they put hot water into these miniature tea kettles. So modern! I’ve never actually seen a personal tea kettle like this.

  • Wild Rice Market Bistro (River Market New Westminster)
    122 – 810 Quayside Drive
    New Westminster BC. Canada, V3M 6B9
    T: 778.397.0028
    newwest@wildricebc.ca
  • Mon-Thur: 11:30am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-9:00pm
    Fri & Sat: 11:30-10:00pm
    Sun: 11:30am -9:00pm

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1Not good 2Okay/Decent 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Incredible! Must-try and would order again

Salt & Pepper Squid: fried squid and jalapenos, grilled lime, house tartar: 2/6

  • I didn’t try this because I’m really not a fan of calamari
  • Dad and Seline complained that this was too salty
  • The salt was sprinkled on top and they ended up shaking the salt off before eating
  • I liked the grilled lime! 🙂

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Curried Steam Buns: Chinatown style house made buns filled with fresh root veg in coconut curry: 3.5/6
  • Buns were very soft and tasted handmade
  • Filled with chopped root vegetables in a turmeric curry sauce
  • Fillings and bun had great flavour and texture but didn’t blow me away
  • Green condiment on the sides was similar to an Asian-style pesto made with Chinese spices rather than basil
  • Hot sauce and sweet soy sauce drizzled on top

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Cauliflower Duo: pan roasted cauliflower on turmeric scented cauliflower puree, raisins, scallions, beet jelly: 3/6
  • Very creative dish!
  • Cauliflower may have been too soft/mushy for some, but I found it just right
  • Beet jelly did not have a strong beet taste. The flavour was quite neutral
  • I couldn’t quite identify the yellow puree as I was eating it – thought it was some sort of mustard aioli
  • Aunt Mimi liked how the cauliflower was spiced with cumin as well as S+P
  • The cauliflower were great and had a bit of a sear on it

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Kung Po Chicken Poutine: our award winning poutine, spicy kung po chicken gravy, aged cheddar and cheese curds over polenta fries, topped with spring onions: 4/6
  • Polenta fries were thick and chewy with lots of crunch from the cornmeal outside
  • Gravy was luscious and just salty enough, tasted homemade!
  • I liked the addition of cheddar (not just cheese curds), but the cheddar flavour faded into the dish
  • There were also some small chunks of chicken (thigh?) on top
  • This was a very creative twist on poutine that I really enjoyed, but I wish the polenta fries were a tad softer inside. The outside crisp was just right.

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Panko Chicken Tenders & Fries: hand filleted boneless breast, smoked paprika, parsley: 2/6
  • I didn’t try any of this, but my dad and sister complained that it was too salty
  • The salt was sprinkled on top (coarse sea salt) and was more noticeable
  • Garlic aioli was very popular!
  • Apparently the fries were over-salted as well

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Tuna Gomae: a Japanese classic. lightly seared Albacore tuna, smoked shallot lime salt, sesame spinach: 3.5/6

  • “It doesn’t taste like tuna at all. It tastes like meat” was my uncle Charles’s first impression
  • I thought the tuna had a great seafood flavour but was not flavoured enough (could’ve used some garlic or maybe vinegar)
  • A drizzle of some soy/sesame sauce would’ve been excellent
  • The sesame spinach was great! Served slightly cool and very flavourful with ground sesame

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Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wrap: our take on a classic. crispy chicken, tomatoes, blue cheese dressing, house made buffalo sauce, served with house salad: 5/6
  • I didn’t get the chance to try this either
  • House salad of mixed greens was topped with cucumbers, radish, generous amount of candied pecans, roasted tomatoes
  • The wraps were massive! My grandma could only eat one after the appetizers

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Garlic Prawns: garlic coconut sauce, jasmine rice pilaf: 6/6
  • Like last time, this was my favourite dish!
  • Creamy coconut sauce was infused with garlic and served with eight perfectly-tender prawns
  • Rice pilaf was seasoned with turmeric and mixed with peas, carrots, and chopped baby corn
  • So flavourful with the spices, coconut and garlic
  • Not too salty
  • Flavours blended so well together (coconut + turmeric + garlic + seafood)
  • Shrimp is very easy to overcook so I appreciated how nicely done the prawns were
  • This is probably just me, but I wish there were some more seasonal veggies served with this

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Vegan “Butter Chicken”: tofu simmered in mild curry, jasmine rice: 5/6
  • Not too spicy, quite creamy
  • Served with pickled onions, which did not have much flavour
  • Tofu chunks were large and substantial
  • There were also chunks of potato or lotus. I think it was lotus because there were some holes?
  • There were also bits of celery and lentils
  • The rice was fluffy and quite plain (like regular home-cooked rice)
  • This dish was delicious but did not stand out to me. I really enjoyed the flavour of the curry with the onions

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Spicy Chicken Kung Po: fresh BC chicken, broccoli, twice cooked peanuts with rice noodles in rich coconut sauce: 6/6
  • LOVED the peanuts here! I expected the peanuts to be hard and crunchy, but they were crisp and shatter-y
  • Peanuts were spiced with paprika and cayenne (I think)
  • Generous amount of broccoli, cooked until tender
  • Noodles were chewy and very good with the peanut sauce
  • There were some chunks of chicken (thighs) here, but I think there should’ve been more
  • Some onions or carrots would’ve taken this bowl over the top
  • Excellent flavours and everything fit together very well, but I became bored of it after a while
  • Enjoyed the variety in textures and flavours

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I loved this so much and it reminded me of my peanut sauce (click for recipe in a new tab). Definitely a highlight on their menu and I encourage you to give this lovely Thai-style noodle dish a try, especially if you like noodles and peanuts!

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Seared Duck Breast: braised shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato gnocchi, blueberry rooibos jus: 4.5/6
  • Duck was very tender and did not have much of that “duck” taste
  • If I did a blind taste test of the duck, I would’ve guessed chicken (flavour) or pork (texture)
  • Gnocchi were so fluffy inside and had a beautiful crust outside
  • The shiitake mushrooms were braised in a soy-blueberry sauce that was quite fragrant (from rooibos, which is often used for tea)
  • The blueberry flavour in the sauce really stood out to me
  • The creative flavours in this dish did not quite work for me, but that may just be because I am used to blueberries in sweet dishes

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Do you like gnocchi? Have you ever had it cooked until crispy?

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We demolished everything except about 30% of the vegan butter “chicken” which we didn’t want packed up. We were all so full but ready for dessert!

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See THIS POST for my first visit to Wild Rice. 🙂

TreGalli Cafe white truffle gelato (3/6), chocolate-almond gelato (2.5/6)

  • Kid’s cup with two flavours
  • Chocolate almond gelato tasted like regular chocolate ice cream, so I was not impressed at all
  • White truffle gelato tasted like real, pure white chocolate, not too sweet
  • Both were creamy and melted quite quickly, which is normal for gelato
  • The waffle cone on top was not good at all – probably because I compared it to the house-made vanilla waffle cones at Rain or Shine
  • Last time I enjoyed the cookies and cream flavour

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Before dinner, we ran lots of errands and I was so ready for a little bowl of fruit before starting to cook. Two chopped kiwis and some fresh blackberries made it onto my plate as I cooked dinner: rotisserie chicken on quinoa, spinach, corn, and zucchini stir-fry. This simple dinner didn’t need a single grain of salt – I added lemon juice and some freshly-ground black pepper. This is truly my fave quick dinner for one!

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I’ve said it a hundred times before, but rotisserie chicken is SO tender and delicious. You don’t even need the skin to get the full effect. With my chicken thigh and breast, this was such a filling and delicious dinner. I finished every drop!

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I packed some snacks for our plane ride (L to R): organic kettle corn, cashews + raisins, dark chocolate-covered figs, a little square of milk chocolate, roasted garlic and rosemary crackers, coconut chips, and some more kettle corn. Seline has some baggies of Sour Keys and High Chews prepared.

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Paris, here we come! 😀

Wild Rice Restaurant Review + An Uninvited Guest?!

Good morning everyone! How are you all doing? I just enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal (updated my oatmeal page, by the way!) topped with cherries, caramelized banana, hemp hearts, cashews and an incredible sour cherry buckwheat scone from Purebread Bakery in Vancouver. In less than half an hour, I’ll be doing a Circuit class, followed by 45 minutes of indoor cycling, AKA spin class, and then an hour or so of hatha yoga. In the afternoon, I have a driving lesson and will be making summer rolls for dinner! So excited. :mrgreen:

Anyways, my sister and I had lunch together – just the two of us, after an hour of aerial silks – at Wild Rice Restaurant in New West. It’s by the River Market in the Quay, near the river. We had quite the view!

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The restaurant itself is:

  • modern and clean
  • decorated with balloons, lights, and paintings
  • sunny with plenty of windows
  • has plenty of seating, including a spacious patio
  • COOKING: fresh, local, organic (no heat lamps, no hormones, no microwaves)
  • Gluten-free, vegan options on regular menu

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We chose to sit indoors because it was a bit windy. After much deliberation (coconut shrimp? Vegan butter “chicken” with tofu?), I decided I was in the mood for something light and fresh, and ordered their house salad.

House Salad with chicken: mixed greens, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radish and candied pecans, mirin soy vinaigrette

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This salad was pretty yummy! There was a massive pile of greens, which I am 99% sure came from Costco, and every leaf was coated in a slightly sour, salty dressing made with soy sauce and ginger. There was a pile of cherry tomato compote, sliced radishes, and candied pecans scattered on top. I found the pecans absolutely delicious with the greens and dressing, but unfortunately, I had only five pieces or so on my salad. 😦 The chicken, which was hormone-free, was sautéed perfectly with a nice, seared crust on the outside. I like how Wild Rice uses both chicken breast and chicken thigh pieces to top salads.

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Seline had chicken tenders with fries. She loved the slightly-spicy aioli dip. We enjoyed a couple pieces of flatbread as well. Seline said they were like “Americanized green onion pancakes from Taiwan”. I liked the garlicky oil on top, and the bread was so tender! I dipped some in her aioli. 🙂 Yum!

Panko Chicken Tenders & Fries: hand filleted boneless breast, smoked paprika, parsley
Flatbread: grilled, brushed with garlic oil

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Our meal was humungous! I barely finished my salad (there was a HEAP of greens here!) and really enjoyed the chicken and pecans. Still, we had room for dessert!

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Chocolate Cake: cocoa sauce and vanilla ice cream
Oh my goodness. This dessert was like heaven on a plate. It was like a big square of black bean brownie (though a tad sweeter and more cake-like) topped with cold ice cream. There was also a chocolate sauce on top, and a raspberry coulis. This was similar to the molten chocolate lava cake from Cactus Club, but to be honest, I much prefer this one! You get sweetness and rich flavour from the cake, cut by the sour raspberry puree. The cake was warm, and with the cool ice cream, was just divine.

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Seline and I devoured this in less than a minute, and we fought over who got the last bite. 🙂

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Chocolate Cake: cocoa sauce and vanilla ice cream
Sticky Toffee Pudding: served traditionally with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream
The following week, we came with our parents! Seline and I raved about Wild Rice for the longest time, and finally convinced Mom and Dad to come eat with us at this lovely, delicious, yet underrated restaurant. This time, I DEVOURED the coconut shrimp (truly the best coconut shrimp dish I’ve ever had – including curry!), which came with rice. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera so I can’t show you the plate of HEAVEN that I ate.
Anyways! For dessert, we HAD to order the chocolate cake again! This time, I also wanted to try the sticky toffee pudding. Unlike Earls, this toffee pudding was chocolate-less. Instead, there was a wonderful butterscotch sauce (like the one I had on the galette at Coastal Cookery in the Sunshine Coast). The cake itself was soft, moist, and sweetened with tender chopped dates. Date desserts are one of my favourite sweets, and I really enjoyed this warm cake with the chilled vanilla ice cream. The perfect end to a yummy lunch!

After a trip to Costco a couple weeks ago, I enjoyed a rotisserie chicken drumstick with a spinach, apricot, and blackberry salad with crispy chickpeas and poppyseed dressing. This lunch was just okay – not my favourite.

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Roasted vegetables with Israeli couscous. Not my favourite grain – quinoa still holds the crown for that category.

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Quinoa stir-fry with leftover roasted vegetables, topped with feta cheese and crispy chickpeas

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Roasted potato wedges // chicken and onion stir-fry with asparagus // roasted vegetables

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My plate, with a little chicken, veggies, and ginger-turmeric rice

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Mixed green salad with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, roasted pecans, feta cheese, and poppyseed dressing

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EW! Guess what I found in my spinach? This little guy was quite the uninvited guest. But I guess he wanted some yummy salad, too?

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Oh yeah! There was some quinoa in here, too. I love Brianna’s salad dressing (this one was from Whole Foods).

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The bites with a little berry, a little feta, and a big candied pecan were the best. 🙂

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Do you like salad? Normally, I’m not the biggest salad person because I prefer veggies to be warm and tender, preferably with some sauce or flavouring. Salads, which are cold and, well, raw, aren’t typically part of my weekly meal rotation. Yummy meal salads, like this one or this one, however, are so much fun to eat at restaurants because you get to try new ingredients. 🙂

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That’s it for now! Have a great day, guys. Stay tuned for my next Coast Post – it’s going to feature THE most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. 😉

Unusual Dinner w/ Chinese Salad + TJs Shopping List

Hi! How are you all doing? It’s Thursday, but it’s totally the weekend because of Easter. Woohoo! No school tomorrow and no school on Monday – yippee yah yah! Too bad it’s raining like crazy outside now, because I would really like some fresh air. Oh, well… maybe I’ll actually have a productive evening today. I feel like there is so much to do now – how about you?!

These photos are from a delicious dinner we had last week. Not a likely combination, but these three ingredients (prepared separately!) work so well together.

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Maple-soy salmon was the star. Simply mix soy sauce and maple syrup in a big container and plop the trout (yeah, yeah, I call it salmon) inside to marinate. You could also add garlic and black pepper to the marinade, but we usually go the simple lazy route. We usually marinate it for a whole afternoon, but my mom’s friend, who gave us the recipe, marinates hers for TWO DAYS. I find that marinating it for too long makes it lose that delicate fishy flavour that I love so much. As you know, simple salt and pepper trout with lemon is perfectly delicious on its own. Even in a wrap with veggies!

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We also had steamed edamame. Boil some water with salt + star anise (my mom swears it adds flavour, but I don’t taste it). Remove when done and sprinkle with whatevah!

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We always seem to have butternut squash with salmon. Here it is! Tossed with butter, salt, and pepper, then placed in the oven for about 25 minutes. Yum! Funny how I started to like butternut squash in the spring! Just like how I only started eating berries in the fall. I’m a season behind. 😦

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Fluffy white rice under it all. How do some people have a meal without rice? I mean, Cooking Light shows meals that are basically protein + vegetable. Could you eat only a salmon filet with some green beans? I totally can’t! A meal isn’t a meal without rice, right? Thoughts?

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On the side we have a Chinese chicken salad. These are rice noodles – handmade by my mom! I was so impressed. They were chewy and tasted even better than store-bought – plus they had only two ingredients (water is one of them). It’s tossed with strips of cucumber, shredded rotisserie chicken, and strips of pan-fried egg (cooked like an omelet). The mouthwatering sesame dressing was made of sesame paste *AKA tahini*, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, a little sugar, a little salt, soy sauce, minced garlic, homemade chili oil (canola infused with red pepper flakes), and some water to get it to the right consistency. Incredible! We always go heavy on the sauce – it is SO good.

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I really want to try to make this salad for lunch next week. It looks SO good! There’s a reason why Iowa Girl Eats is my all-time favourite blogger. This salad looks incredible. I’ll update you if I try it out, but there are a lot of things we’ll need to buy (goat cheese, wild rice, etc.)

Anyways… did I tell you guys yet? Next week, we’re going to TRADER JOE’S! OMG. I am beyond excited! Here’s my shopping list! I based it on the TJ’s lists of Kath Eats and Iowa Girl Eats. If I lived in the US, I would be at TJ’s every few days for the yummy food! ❤ Can’t wait until Monday!
• Peanut butter pretzels
• Pumpkin butter
• Cookie butter
• Coconut milk
• Pancake/waffle mix
• Salad dressing
• Inner Peas snack
• TJ’s Salted Peanut Butter
• TJ’s Salted Almond Butter
• Salad packs
• Hummus, salsa and CRACKERS
• Paneer curry tikka masala something
• Hot cereal
• Harvest Grains blend (Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, red quinoa)
• Orzo and rice mix
• Goat cheese medallions

I’ll definitely update you all after the TJ’s trip. Lots of homework and emails to reply to. Bye for now!