Winter Break in Pictures

It’s almost the new year! Which means it’s time to clean out all my old photos. And what better way to do so than to upload them all here?

Lunch at Boston Pizza with the family. Featuring cheesy garlic bread over seven-cheese ravioli, shrimp tacos and fries, and sun-dried tomato and chicken quesadillas with sweet potato fries.

The cheesiest pasta, made at home with jarred marinara, topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and served with buttery parmesan naan bread and spicy sautéed broccoli.

Roasted potatoes and broccoli with baked maple-soy salmon over rice, and some time at a local coffee shop (Coffee and Vanilla) with high school friend Joanne.

I’m kind of in love with Costco’s stuffed peppers. These were served with plenty of Parmesan cheese (more added after, of course), sautéed carrots and asparagus, and fresh corn on the cob stir-fried with green onions.

More time at a coffee shop, this time with high school friend Medha at Juillet Café.

Another day, I enjoyed leftover roasted broccoli, chopped up into an egg scramble with freshly-grated Gouda. The toast was extra special, being Mom’s favourite brioche bread with butter.

One more coffee shop: yesterday, I spent time with the lovely Rachel at The Birds and The Beets, where we chatted over some great dishes. I loved the cheddar-filled egg scramble with spicy mayo and greens in my breakfast sandwich, and Rachel had homemade yogurt with granola and jam.

Guys. I read a new, obsession-worthy book! Initially, I forced my sister to buy and read Scythe by Neal Shusterman over the summer, and she obliged reluctantly. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a big fan. I finally read it myself this winter and fell in love with the beautiful, futuristic world and captivating concept. If Neal Shusterman and Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games trilogy) were given the same prompts – futuristic North America, teenage boy and girl in a deadly competition, justification for murder, modernized Roman weapons, archaic Greek and Roman names, malicious and all-seeing government à la Big Brother of 1984 – you’d end up with two incredibly different, yet similar, tales: Scythe by Shusterman and The Hunger Games by Collins.

Here’s the synopsis on the inside cover of Scythe:

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

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Onto an entirely different thing: party food! Mom and I made Christmas Eve dinner for friends and family, including a special chocolate cheesecake, crackers with Laughing Cow cheese, hummus, and maple smoked salmon nuggets, stir-fried veggies, a seasoned turkey with gravy, baked potatoes, and almond banana muffins.

Finally, Mom made these pearl meatballs, a Chinese dish that involves ground pork, ginger, green onions, and spices, with glutinous rice rolled overtop before steaming. These are one of my favourite Chinese meat dishes, particularly with purple yam underneath while steaming.

There was a bit of experimentation in the kitchen, where Seline and I tried to make Ricardo’s checkerboard cake. It was fun to make (and an absolutely painstaking process), but didn’t turn out as expected – hence the lack of photos of the finished product. It tasted good though, but how could it not, with homemade buttercream frosting, homemade pound cake, and homemade caramel?

Checkerboard Cake

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Caramel

  • 3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream/heavy cream

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (170 g)
  • 2 cups icing sugar (250 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (226 g)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (250 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (256 g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp more milk
  • cocoa for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Caramel: Cook sugar and half the water until mixture is golden brown. Add remaining water and cream. Simmer 2 minutes. Cool completely and set aside.
  2. Frosting: Beat all frosting ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Butter two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  5. Cream butter and sugar.
  6. Add eggs, vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  7. Combine flour and baking powder.
  8. Stir dry ingredients into previous mixture, alternating with milk.
  9. Divide batter in half.
  10. Add cocoa powder and extra milk into one portion of the batter. Mix gently.
  11. Spread chocolate batter into one loaf pan.
  12. Spread vanilla batter into the other loaf pan.
  13. Bake in the middle of the oven for approx. 40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Cool.
  14. Remove from pans. Slice off the rounded top of the cake.
  15. Slice cake in half horizontally.
  16. Layer slices alternately of chocolate and vanilla.
  17. Spread caramel between each layer, so they stick together. Level the sides of the cake.
  18. Slice the cake vertically into three long pieces.
  19. Lay a slice of the cake flat, and cover with caramel. Layer with remaining slices, alternating the colours to form a checkerboard with caramel between each layer.
  20. Frost the cake with a very thin layer with a spatula. Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. This is a crumb coat which will prevent chocolate crumbs from appearing on the frosting.
  21. Spread the remaining frosting.

That’s it, guys – happy rest of 2017! 🙂

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 💀🎄🍰

✧ Lately ✧

Does anyone have a cool human body project idea?

A walk back home, taking the scenic route. What an interesting place, right? In my opinion, this doesn’t even look like Canada.

A trip to the library = six new (to me) books. I. Can’t. Wait.

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Deliciousness in the form of Thai green curry and biryani rice.

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Vegetable Biryani

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, quartered and cut into 5-cm  segments
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • S+P
  • 2 cups yellow onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins or currants
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash, carrots, and bell pepper with 2 tbsp oil, curry powder, and salt.
  2. Roast vegetables until tender when pierced, 20-25 mins.
  3. Warm 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, 6 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in rice. Cook 1 minute.
  6. Add broth, raisins, and turmeric. Simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer gently until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 10-12 mins.
  8. Remove from heat. Keep covered until vegetables have finished roasting.
  9. Fold in roasted vegetables and cashews. Season with S+P. Serve.

I went for the most enjoyable walk on Monday evening.

The beach at East Point Park was quite nice. I’m looking forward to a jaunt to Guild Park soon!

Who knew Scarborough could be so pretty?

The sunshine and superb blue skies made a huge difference. This walk really brightened by day, literally and figuratively.

Another day-brightener: I had pizza twice. One slice was ricotta and olive, the other was poached pear with ham and brie. Completely in love with both.

2018 Winter Olympics! Did they come fast or what? The Olympics make me realize that the years go by FAST. I’m looking forward to figure skating! Also, I finished reading the Maze Runner, and now I’ll have to see the movie 🎥

Tonight, I had chili! Topped with cheddar and lime – the best.

Healthy Pumpkin Chili

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 large chopped white onion
  • sprinkle garlic powder
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 lime
  • desired toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic powder until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers, cook another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, broth and spices (excluding the lime until the end). Stir until well combined.
  3. Bring to a slight boil, turn down heat and cover to let simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh lime juice.
  5. Serve with your favorite spices and toppings.

Have a glorious rest of the week, everyone!

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 ❤

Throwback to Waterloo

This is a post I wrote about a MONTH ago but never posted, because… who knows? I don’t.

Let’s start of with memes, because… memes.

I really, really want to see the new Disney movie Moana. She is so beautiful, and I’m loving the movie’s message and the freaking theme song. Amazing tune, incredible vocals, and gorgeous animation scenery. I’m such a Disney aficionado. Do you like Disney? Have you seen Moana?

True.

How has 2017 been treating you so far?

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I’ve also been trying to sell these textbooks. It’s been going okay, but a little stressful. The worst is when people see your message and don’t answer. GRR.

The other day I went down to the Kitchener Market. It was so hectic, but fun to walk around and see all of the vendors.

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Working on my first aerial silks routine. I’m thinking of performing to the song Life of the Party by Shawn Mendes. It’s been one of my favourite songs for a long time, and for a good reason! What a beautiful, empowering song by a brilliant and super-talented artist. Do you know that song? If so, thoughts? These are some of the bits of choreography that I’d like to do before getting on the silks.

Kinda late, but cool.

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2 eggs and a ripe banana made some tasty crepes!

Oooh check out this pasta!

I had leftover ricotta, and the blobs of ricotta on top made this extra AMAZING. Used a mix of penne and bow ties because I wanted to use up both.

I was featured in my school’s newsletter!

And one day I made Thai curried fried rice.

Can you figure out this riddle? What number should be where the parked car is? Trust me, it’s not as hard as it seems and there’s no math involved…

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Last week of Waterloo also involved searching for the perfect leotard! I have a hard time with tank tops and t-shirts at aerial silks, because they always seem to catch and get ripped in all directions. I needed something tight and wouldn’t ride up and give me belly burns!

New website plans?!

Sleep like a baby is my favourite one 😀

More of that fried rice. Yay for peas. They are so good.

Leftover pasta! Mmmm that ricotta.

Really ugly toast that I was going to delete, but I remember it tasting really good. PBJ on one slide, and chocolate-almond butter on the other.

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Glad the winter is 2/3 over! Fingers crossed.

Great recipe that I made and love. I froze all of these and brought them to Toronto. Still eating them!

Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/4 cups blueberries, coated in some flour
Mix and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Muffin tins will be very full.
 I also made these vegan banana muffins that I enjoyed a LOT!
Vegan Banana Muffins
Serves 10-12
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed until chunky
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
Mix and bake at 375 for 17-22 minutes.
 Y’all should try this soup, too. I enjoyed it for DAYS! Tastes like its from a fancy cafe 🙂
Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 4 cups no-salt added vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1/2 heaping tsp salt (I used vegetable salt)
  • 14 oz bag frozen broccoli, or 1 large head of broccoli, steamed and chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne, optional
  • Italian seasoning to taste (I used a sprinkle of basil)

Instructions

  1. Add chicken broth and salt in a large pot. Stir and cover. Boil and reduce to simmer.
  2. Cook frozen broccoli by steaming or microwaving for 5-7 mins. Add to simmering broth.
  3. Measure flour into a large bowl or jar. Add milk and put on the lid. Shake it around until flour is well mixed into milk.
  4. Remove broccoli-broth from heat and add flour and evaporated milk mixture all at once. Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, saving some for the topping. Season.
  6. Serve!

Okay, that’s it because I’m heading out now! Bye, guys! I promise I have a good post coming up. I know this was not the best 😦

5 Birthday-Brightening Gestures

Last Tuesday, the 13th, was my birthday! I’m now 19 years old 🙂 It was a pretty bad time to have a birthday, with important final exams happening on the 14th, 16th, and 17th! Thankfully, those exams are all over now.

5 Birthday-Brightening Gestures

  1. My beautiful, talented friend from aerial silks gave me a ride home on Tuesday night. It was 10:00 PM, dark, snowy, and -15 degrees. Even though she lived in the opposite direction (Kitchener), she offered to drive me HOME, instead of the nearby mall. Thank you, Leah!
  2. My friend Lily from school gave me a high-quality, warm, and classic pair of leg warmers from Roots. I love them! I put them on shortly after and couldn’t stop thinking about how comfy they were. Looks like I will be having a warm winter 🙂 If you check out my aerial silks page, you’ll see that I’ve been really loving the leg warmers!
  3. My friend Jasmine made a MEME of me. If you guys know me, you’ll know that I am a meme lover. My life probably revolves around memes. Anyways, she found a hideous picture of me and made a meme out of it. Had me laughing for a good five minutes.
  4. Roommates Madhulika and Arsalan bought me a white chocolate vanilla bean cheesecake from Vincenzo’s, the local Italian grocery store. They knew it’s my favourite cheesecake, and they plated it, put candles in it, and surprised me when I got home. It was so sweet of them (literally) to buy that for me. Look how surprised and happy I was in the picture below. I got home at around 10:00 PM on the Tuesday, and they surprised me the minute I walked in – hence the big winter jacket, messy hair, and sweat on my face 🙂
  5. My 16 year-old sister Seline, in BC, wrote a little poem for me! You can read it here. It’s called Rotations and is quite a unique piece of writing. Seline’s poetry-writing skills are much better than mine. Definitely check out her corner of the internetfor some thought-provoking poetry, incredible images, and muses from a mature high-schooler.

Needless to say, it was a much birthday than my 18th, when I lost my ID AND KEYS the day before my biology final exam. 😉 To be fair, it makes a pretty funny story now that I think about it.

Next up – a hot chocolate recipe! Friends, you need to make this. I’ve done it before with almond milk and Enjoy Life chocolate chips for a vegan version and it is equally delicious.

Favourite Easy Hot Chocolate from Scratch
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar, or regular sugar
  • pinch cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Alternatively, add milk to a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once milk is warm, add cocoa powder, chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.
  3. Continue cooking on stove top until completely combined and has reached your preferred temperature.
  4. Serve with a blanket, a movie, a group of friends, and in front of a fireplace. Just kidding. If you’re suffering through #finalexams (you know, #studentlife), enjoy the hot cocoa with a side of notebooks, stress, and calculators. 😉

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When I’m studying:
  • Where is my white-out?
  • Let me check my email.
  • How many more days until Christmas?
  • My foot is falling asleep.
  • What time is it?
  • I’m thirsty.
  • Where’s that sheet? I swear it was important.
  • I need to pee.
  • Why can’t I focus?
  • I’m thirsty again.
  • I wonder what Mom is doing.
  • What is that sound?
  • I’m cold.
  • Should I do my laundry?
  • I really want to look at memes.
  • What should I make for dinner?
  • Let me check my email again.
  • What is the minimum mark I need to get on this final to do well in the course?
  • I want to do yoga.
  • I don’t understand this.
  • Can I go another day without washing my hair?
  • It’s kinda cold in the house!
  • Where is my eraser?

My math final exam was on Friday. We are allowed a double-sided “cheat sheet” with ANYTHING we want on it, and this was mine:

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 10.05.43 PM.png

Looking at math makes me shudder now. Linear algebra is the worst because it doesn’t exist in the BC curriculum – so coming to Ontario was a shock because my friends had tons of linear algebra experience.


Creamy Vegetable Quinoa Casserole

Makes 3 Servings
Ingredients
  • as much quinoa as you like, around enough for 3 servings (cooked – rice works as well)
  • as many veggies as you like (I used broccoli, zucchini, frozen peas, and mushrooms)
  • 215 mL milk
  • 1.5 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • pinch cayenne, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, plus a little more to top
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil setting.
  2. Stir-fry veggies in butter or oil. I use medium heat.
  3. When soft, add most of the milk.
  4. Whisk flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne, nutritional yeast, and Dijon mustard with the remaining milk.
  5. When the milk bubbles, add the milk/flour mixture.
  6. Stir well.
  7. When the mixture thickens, add cheddar. Stir to melt.
  8. Add quinoa. Mix and season.
  9. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.
For one out of three servings, the SAUCE has 140 calories, 9 grams of protein, and is high in calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.

I put crushed crackers on top and broiled it for a super crispy top. It was dreamy.


My birthday cake was this mug cake after lunch! It’s my new favourite recipe, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too 🙂 It’s super fluffy and spongy thanks to the egg.

1-Minute Chocolate Peanut Butter Sponge Cake

Makes: 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water or almond milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until well combined. Transfer to a microwave-safe ramekin, mug or bowl.
  2. Microwave for 55 seconds. Remember, microwave power levels very dramatically. The first time making a microwave cake, keep a close eye as to not over-cook the cake.
  3. Serve with extra chocolate chips and a big scoop of peanut butter.

I filled mine with a generous scoop of chocolate chips. It’s the size of a muffin and quite filling! Amazing quick dessert 🙂

Eggs, veggies, and avocado toast are my favourite quickie meal.

Can you tell I have a lot of whole wheat bread at home? PB and banana sandwiches never fail me, especially toasted. Mmmmm.

Yummy cheese and broccoli quesadilla made with a kamut tortilla from the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market…

… and my new hair crush – the fictional Daenerys from Game of Thrones. Being cursed blessed born with straight, flat, plain black hair, I’ve always been super envious of those who have perfect curls and waves. I’m also huge fan of braids. So, I don’t really know why I’m posting these, except for the fact that I. LOVE. Her. Hair.

It’s cold outside! Last Thursday, we had -25 degrees with the wind chill. The snow is also getting higher and higher – check out how it goes over my boots! Uh oh.

My doggie Arnie, a funny pic, and the special poster in my room 🙂

That’s it for today, guys! I have lots of fun stuff planned now that my final exams are over. Can’t wait to get going on finishing that end-of-2016 list of things to do!