Lunch To-Go

live-love-eat2I am a university student, so having a lunch packed with me a) helps me save some much needed cash and b) allows me to have quick access to food when my tummy rumbles during a lecture. For obvious reasons, you don’t want messy food, loud food, or food you have to reheat. If you have food with you that has loud packaging or is messy you will disrupt your own learning environment as well as the rest of the class. Reheating food is also a pain because most classes have a 10-15 minute break (if at all); 10-15 minutes on campus isn’t much time to find the microwave, wait in line, and get back to class on time. With all of that said, I have devised a few easy and hassle-free lunches I like to bring with me.

If you have a sweet tooth, this lunch idea will be right up your alley: Strawberry-Banana-Nutella Sandwich

You will need 1 banana (slices up), 2 slices if your favorite bread, jar of Nutella, and a few strawberries (sliced). All you have to do now is make it into a sandwich by spreading the Nutella onto the bread and layering the fruit! Complicated, I know. 😉

For a delicious and filling lunch I suggest: Tuna Melt Wrap 

Remember how I said reheating is a no-no? Well, this tuna melt is pre-melted allowing you to just dig into the wrap without the hassle. You will need flour tortillas, 1 can of tuna, 1/2 celery stick (finely chopped), a couple of slices of red onion (finely chopped), 1/2 of a large tomato (finely chopped), a few squirts of Sriracha sauce (or any hot sauce you like), a couple dollops of mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and cheddar cheese (thinly sliced).

Now all you have to do is throw all the ingredients (except for the wrap and cheddar cheese) into a large bowl, mix it together well and then make your wrap. You can easily make this the night before and keep it in the fridge. In the morning, before you head out, just zap it in the microwave for a few seconds and let it cool on a plate before putting it into a container to take with you.

For the salad and pasta lovers: Sesame Pasta Salad

Make the dressing and prepare the ingredients the night ahead and it will be ready to toss and go in the morning! What you will need is 1 pound of linguine pasta (cooked), 4 tablespoons of sesame oil, 3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/2 garlic clove (crushed), 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, 2 bell peppers (thinly sliced), some red onion (thinly sliced), 1 carrot ( chopped Julienne style), handful of snow peas.

Make the dressing in a small Tupperware container by tossing in the sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic, then whisk until well combined. Cover and put away in the fridge. Following that, put the pasta and veggies and peanuts into a different Tupperware container and put that in the fridge as well. In the morning, all you will have to do is put the salad together (or take the two containers with you and add the dressing at lunch).

For someone who likes meat: Turkey Sandwich With a Twist

This is not a boring sandwich you are used to, this one is delicious. What you will need is 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, several slices of smoked turkey, 2 slices of bread, 2 thin slices of tomato, 1 leaf of hearts of romaine lettuce.

In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Next, spread that sauce generously onto both sliced of bread. Layer one slice with lettuce, tomato, and turkey and then close the sandwich with the second slice. Put the sandwich into a Ziploc bag and that’s that!

 

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What have I been up to…?

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London Fog Cupcake

As I sit here and have my late night solo cheese adventure (what? Late night snacks are what the light in the fridge is for!), I’ve decided to fill you in what has been going on in my life. As you’ve noticed, I have been gone for 4 weeks. So, to quickly update you on the 4 weeks that I’ve been away:

  • sick for 2.5 weeks (it was brutal)
  • had to catch up with school work
  • final papers and projects rolled in around the time I was getting better
  • have tried to spend more time with my family
  • final exams are coming up next week, so studying
  • and, amidst all of this, also trying to find time to unwind

It has been a while since I have updated you guys on my resolutions (if you remember my post on what I plan on “resolving” in 2016 haha). Now, to give you some insight into how my new year resolutions have been going, let’s start off with the sleep thing: I have not done well with sleeping recently. I was doing great there for a while until I came down with a cold/flu from hell. Following that, my sleep pattern went downhill. As an example, I don’t know what happened but, the other day, it was as though I went past REM and I hit the 6th realm of sleep – human hibernation. I could barely muster the energy to as much as silence my alarm. When I finally got up I was still very tired – I drank coffee, it didn’t work; took a brisk shower, didn’t help; did some light exercising, barely made a difference. It was as though I was past the point of no return and was still asleep. However, other things on the list are going well. I’ve been keeping up with the rest of my resolutions (except the last 4 weeks of missed blog posts); I have been doing my best, which is what counts. Even though I would like to be perfect, I must accept that it is not humanly possible haha.

As I have mentioned above, I’ve been spending some more time with family lately. It has been fabulous. My future mother-in-law and I spent a wonderful day together when I started feeling better. We went out to the boardwalk and had a delicious cupcake with a little coffee on the side.

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This is where cupcakes were consumed.

We then went back to her place where we exchanged recipes. I showed her how to make my family recipe for chicken and she showed me how to make blueberry scones. Her husband gave me a nice collection of meditation magazines to read, it was just all around a lovely time. Dinner and dessert was wonderful, especially after such a nice day. She also gifted me soap she had made along with two bath bombs, which she also made. I cannot wait to try the soap; in fact, I used a bath bomb tonight. We actually went out for lunch and shopping today! It was such a great time.

On the topic of in-laws, my future father-in-law took me to see the new movie called Zootopia. Oh, my goodness! I adored it. It was cute, funny, sweet…it was everything I could want. Some moments I swear I was the loudest person giggling away in the theater. I will watch it again when it comes out on DVD. Heck, who am I kidding, I’ll probably own it. 

I have also been spending more time with my parents lately. We’ve been doing casual things like watching movies, going out for walks, tending to the garden, dinners, etc. It’s nice to stop spinning like a hamster in wheel, press pause, and pay my dues to what is most important in my life – family. To finish this post off, I have a recipe inspired by family time (a recipe I’ve recently shared with my future mother-in-law) and that recipe is….

Apple Crisp!

Ingredients
10 cups granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white sugar (you can reduce to 1/2 cup if you prefer less sweet)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
Place the sliced apples in a 9×13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Hope this week has been good to you and I wish you all a great weekend!

Mmm, Food.

Life is a kitchen, whip up something incredible!

 

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I spent my childhood immersed in food. My family celebrated everything with food and, when needed, they made food to comfort or cheer up. I watched cooking shows with my mom while she braided my hair for school. I followed my dad around the BBQ in the summer months. I was raised to love food and I was taught not to say no until I tried something and knew I didn’t like it. Diets? They were only kept if ordered by a doctor when someone was ill. I am grateful that my parents raised me to think of food and cooking as art, as fun, as an expression of love, as a comfort, and a joy.

I know the kitchen well, I feel extremely comfortable in it and it has always been my favorite room of the house. I have five different dream kitchens picked out and my hope is that one day my family will gather for Sunday breakfast in one of those kitchens. Some evenings, after a tiring day, I like to hang out in the kitchen. I lean on my kitchen counter, sip my tea, and munch on snacky bits. I’ve been known to take my time reading cookbooks, gathering ideas, and plotting the perfect night centered around food. Most days are busy but, on the days I can let myself take it slow, I relish the opportunity. When I have the chance, I like to take my time with the cooking process – it helps me relax and feel grounded.

My Kitchen Rules:

  1. Patience: All the meticulous prep steps are really important. Ingredients handled correctly will end up making a better product. Plus, if you are patient and take things slow, you will be much less likely to make a mistake or hurt yourself.
  2. Respect: For the ingredients. I buy organic/all-natural as often as possible; I buy farmer-fresh produce, free-range organic eggs, organic meat (when I can) and organic dairy. The food you buy is part of this earth – before it became dinner it was growing somewhere.When you handle ingredients, just remember that no one waved a magic wand to make the food appear, it was grown and cared for. It’s good to give the ingredients respect. And don’t forget to wash your fruits and veggies (because, you know, it grows in soil and then many people’s hands were all over it..).
  3. Bravery: Knives are sharp, pans are hot. I’ve cut myself a few times, I’ve burned myself plenty. I’m prepared to get a little hurt in the kitchen (though I am very careful) – my hands have become a little more resilient over time.
  4. Fun: I like to listen to music and have a good time while I cook. As I’ve mentioned, cooking helps me unwind, and having fun in the kitchen is how I do it.
  5. Cleanliness: My kitchen towels are always clean, my kitchen counters are clean, my stove is clean, everything in my kitchen is clean. I designate my towels and cleaning sponges for different tasks and I will not have it any other way – haha! I can be a bit meticulous when it comes to the kitchen.

It’s an old (maybe even corny) saying that something is “made with love”, but it’s a saying that speaks a lot of truth. Something that is made with love tastes better. On the topic of produce and cooking with love: farmer’s markets are my best friends during the summer. The best part is walking around and seeing people’s produce (local and small-business made honey, jam, butter, cheese, bread) and fresh fruits and veggies. Going home with some of the goodies is the ultimate happiness. I would love to eventually have a garden with my own herbs and veggies and perhaps a few fruits.

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Part of what drew me deeper into cooking was noticing that there is a food for every mood. Feeling crappy? Dysfunctional? Sick? Romantic? Happy? Nostalgic? Celebratory? There is a food for that. Along with that, you can also use food to create the atmosphere you desire – I think that’s pretty cool.

I love sharing recipes, cooking, baking, talking about food, eating, and reading about food [same goes for tea, but that’s a different topic]. I have a huge collection of cookbooks; and I definitely have the classics – like tomes of classic French cookery, along with the two volumes of Julia Child’s cookbooks. I even have a book called The Original White House Cookbook (published in 1887). I guess you can say I am a culinary aficionado. However, I am not a “culinary snob”; I’m simply interested in all things food. Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a bite of food and a fat grin sweeps across your face because what you just ate was so painfully delectable? I have, it is enchanting. It makes me want to create food that receives the same reaction.

Let me be honest with you, I like my food to be borderline socially unacceptable to enjoy in public. What I mean by that is I can appreciate the prim and proper food, but what I truly savor and enjoy is food that’s served hot, food that has many elements to it, and food that is bursting with flavor. When that eating utensil (hands are utensils, too) leaves my mouth, I want my taste buds to shut my brain off for a split second – yeah, I like my food that crazy level of tasty. I am not one of those chicks you see laughing (but internally crying) over a forkful of salad. I eat healthy, but I don’t eat “skinny”. I crave food that is spicy, saucy, steamy, zesty and packed with so much flavor that every bite takes my mouth on a different adventure of tasty discoveries. 

I started this blog to share my recipes and love of food with you, my readers; and it has been a blast so far. Though this blog is no longer solely about food, my excitement for food and writing about food has not diminished in the slightest. I hope to one day write a cookbook…perhaps some time in the future I will get the opportunity to do so. If I do, I want the cookbook to be the ultimate collection/bible/handbook of everything delicious, and for those recipes to be easy enough for every day meals. I’ve got a feeling that, if I do write a cookbook, tea will be incorporated into it as well hehe. A girl can dream, right?

Here are a few recipes of foods that I crave:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Toasted Coconut & Apple

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into slices
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Put the oats, almond and coconut milk, and salt in a medium sized pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stir constantly. Continue to simmer and stir until the oats break down. Add more milk, as necessary to keep the consistency creamy and to prevent the oats from sticking and burning to the bottom of the saucepan.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil in a frying pan and add the apples when the oil is hot. Drizzle apples with the lemon juice, some water, and honey, and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Give the pan a shake to incorporate the liquids with the cinnamon; but be careful to not disrupt the placement of the apples too much. Put a lid on the pan and simmer on medium-low heat until the apples are soft but still retain their shape.
  3. While the oats and apples are doing their thing, put the coconut flakes in a frying pan over medium-low heat and toast until golden brown. Remove from the heat immediately.
  4. To Serve: Spoon the oatmeal into bowls and top with the apples and some toasted coconut. You can sprinkle some more cinnamon over the oatmeal and drizzle more honey over top if you prefer things a little sweeter.

*great alternatives for the apples are pears, or peaches*

Lunch: Crunchy Sesame Noodle Salad

  • 1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 packages of (crumbled) instant ramen noodles (toss the seasoning packet in garbage, you won’t need it)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame beans
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)
  • Honey- sesame dressing (see ingredients below)

Honey-Sesame Dressing

  • 2/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange juice
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir a bit to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden.
  2. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and give the mixture a good stir/toss (so that everything toasts evenly). Then return it to the oven and toast for an additional couple minutes. Keep a very close eye on the ramen and almonds so that the mix does not burn. Remove and set aside.
  3. Toss all ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl until well combined.
  4. Serve/eat the salad immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days…but the noodles will loose their crunch after the first day, so it is better to eat it right away.

Dinner: Shrimp and Mango Sushi Cones

  • 1 package of nori (sushi) seaweed sheets
  • 30-40 large raw peeled shrimp
  • Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large mango, cubed into small bits
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped into small-medium pieces
  • Juice of 1 lime, strained
  • soy sauce
  • Sushi rice
  • rice vinegar (for sushi rice)
  • sugar (for sushi rice)
  • salt (for sushi rice)
  • Oil for frying
  1. Prepare sushi rice as directed on the instructions (I googled how to do it). After it is cooked, let it cool completely.
  2. Once rice is cooled, make a breading station: one bowl with flour, one bowl with panko, and one bowl with the beaten eggs. Bread your shrimp starting with the flower, then the egg, then the panko.
  3. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a deep pan. When the oil is hot, add your shrimp in batches and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  4. Meanwhile, toss mango, onion, red bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, and scallions in a bowl. Drizzle the lime juice over the ingredients and mix to combine well.
  5. Next, take your nori and onto the left side of the sheet spread the sushi rice. Top the rice with a few shrimp and the mango salsa. Roll up to make a cone shape (this took me some practice to get right, but it’s not too difficult).
  6. Serve immediately with a side of soy sauce.

Dessert: Chocolate Pudding Parfait

  • 2 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped cream
  • Berries or fruits of choice
  1. Pour the milk in a medium sized, heavy saucepan. Bring to a light boil. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the egg yolks, mix together with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring to combine well.
  2. Gradually add half of the hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly and vigorously with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a light boil again. Reduce heat, and simmer until the mixture thickens, stir constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring vigorously until chocolate is melted.
  3. Spoon pudding into a bowl. And place that bowl in a larger ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding the has cooled…stir it occasionally. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour to 2 hours.
  4. Scoop a dollop of pudding into your choice of serving dish (I like to use wine glasses or martini glasses) and top with whipped cream and fruits/berries.

Midnight Snack: Spicy Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (use as much or as little of it as you like)
  • Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp (of keep it soft, if you prefer)
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese
  1. Make your grilled cheese sandwich: cream cheese, jalapeno pepper, bacon, cheddar cheese. Coat one side with butter and fry it on a hot pan or a griddle. Enjoy.

And there you have a few examples of the type of foods I crave to eat at different times of the day. As you can tell, I like texture in my food and I like a mix of different flavors.

What are some of your common cravings?

retrohousewife(2)

Hello March!

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Hello everyone! As I sit here, writing and sipping on my tea, outside does not look happy – the rain is crashing against my window and the wind is blowing something crazy. On a brighter note: it’s the first of March and you know what that means, right? Spring is coming! As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put: “The earth laughs in flowers”. I love seeing all of the flowers in full bloom. Though, as much as I love the flowers and springtime, I love summer even more. Why? Here is my list of what I look forward to this summer:

  1. Sunshine – okay, the West Coast is gorgeous. We have the mountains, the forests, the lakes, the ocean. However, it rains…a lot. To be frank, I am a bit tired of the rain and grey skies, which is why sunshine is the number one thing on my list. Waking up and it actually looking like morning is kinda nice, too.
  2. Adventures – there is no time like summer time for adventures.
  3. Cookouts & BBQs – Burgers, grilled meats/seafood, veggies, and grilled pineapples with ice cream on top. Cornbread, pies, and sweet tea…yes, please!
  4. The clothes & shoes – If you’re a person who is perpetually warm, you may not really feel me on this one. I get cold rather easily, so, during all the other seasons, I generally layer my clothing. In the summer, however, I can wear my favorite clothing items without hiding them under other clothing items (and wear things I normally wouldn’t wear during other seasons). Makes sense? I hope so. As for the shoes, I can wear flats and not worry about soaking my feet in a puddle; I can wear heels and not worry about them getting muddy; plus, my feet don’t have to be trapped in boots or sneakers, meaning my toes and be free in a pair of flip-flops.
  5. Swimming & lounging – Lounging in the sun after swimming in the lake/pool/any body of water.
  6. Fruit – I absolutely love fruit! I consume fruits like a hoover while they last. Those juicy mangoes and watermelons and peaches and pineapples *salivating* – I like pulling up to the farmer’s market and grabbing all kinds of delicious summer treats.
  7. Camping and warm nights – Close your eyes. Can you hear the crackling of the wood, too? Bonfires on a warm summer night are magical. Spending time in nature, roasting marshmallows, chatting around the fire. Sign me up!
  8. Ice cream & cold treats – well, here’s a no-brainer. With summer comes all kinds of ice cream, frozen drinks, and iced teas.
  9. Amusement parks – I haven’t been to a proper amusement park in ages, but I gotta get to one this summer.
  10. Fresh cut grass – I really enjoy the smell of it.
  11. Markets and fairs – I think going to a local market and/or fair is one of the most fun things to do in the summer.
  12. Wedding planning – last, but certainly not least, is planning the wedding. I am very excited for this process and it will be so incredible to finally have my fiance back home with me!

This list could potentially become very long, so I will cap it off at twelve points of why summer is the season I love and look forward to. There shall be many summer-themed posts coming up.

To wrap up today’s post, I’d like to share some recipes with you which are perfect for welcoming spring – some small nibbles along with a sweet indulgence at the end. I find that instead of eating one large plate of food in the spring and summer months, I like to tantalize my taste buds (and give my stomach a rest after the hearty winter food) with a few well thought-out complimentary bites.

 

Spring onion flatbreads:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 170g spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 215g plain all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • oil for pan-frying
  1. Head an oiled frying pan on medium heat. Add green onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until soft
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Add your onion/garlic mixture to the bowl, then add cilantro. Gradually stir in 250 ml of boiling water. Stop adding water when you notice a loose dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  3.  After the dough has rested, rip off walnut-sized pieces of the dough and roll out into 20 thin ovals.
  4. Fill a frying pan with 2 cm of oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the breads two or three at a time for about 30 seconds on each side, or until golden and crisp.
  5. Drain on paper towels and serve with tzatziki (recipe follows)

Tzatziki

  • 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 250 g plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped mint
  1. Finely grate the cucumber and squeeze out all the excess moisture. Transfer the cucumber to a bowl; then add yogurt, vinegar, dill, mint, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix it all together to make sure ingredients are well combined. Serve with spring onion flatbreads.

Grilled lime prawns

  • 48 raw king prawns (peeled and deveined)
  • 125 ml fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 6 tinned sugar canes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • salt and black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, basil, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Next, toss in your prawns and make sure they are well coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge; let the prawns marinate for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the sugar canes into 1/4 inch thick strips that are about 4 inches in length. Thread two prawns per sugar cane stick. You can make small cuts in the prawns to help the threading process.
  3. Cook prawns on a hot griddle (or BBQ) for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through. Serve with lime wedges.

Salt and pepper squid:

  • 1 kg small squid tubes
  • 250 ml (1 cup) lemon juice
  • 250 g (2 cups) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons white pepper (ground)
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • oil for frying
  1. Wash and pat dry the squid tubes, then cut them into thin rings. Put the rings in a flat dish (not metallic) and pour the lemon juice over the top. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry again.
  2. Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Fill a deep heavy-based saucepan 1/3 third full of oil and heat to 350 C, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns within 15 seconds.
  4. Dip the squid into the egg white and then into the cornstarch mixture. Shake off excess.
  5. Gently drop the squid into the oil in small batches. Deep-fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden. Serve right away.

*dip into tzatziki!*

Fig and mascarpone tart:

For the pastry:

  • 175g (1.5 sticks) of softened butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 50g white chocolate, melted
  • 250g (1 cup) mascarpone
  • 18-20 fresh, ripe figs
  • 6 tablespoons apricot jam, strained

*an 8-inch tart pan*

  1. Preheat oven to 350 C. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolk and stir until well combined.
  2. Fold in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough and line the tart pan with it. There should be pastry left over, you can freeze them and use again later.
  4. Bake the pastry  case for about 10 minutes or so, or until lightly golden and firm. Let it cool.
  5. Brush the base of the tart with melted white chocolate and let it set. Meanwhile, beat mascarpone for a minute or two, until smooth and light. Spoon the mascarpone onto the tart and spread it out in an even layer.
  6. Quarter the figs and arrange them vertically in the mascarpone, place them close together in concentric circles until the there are no gaps in the tart.
  7. Place the jam in a small saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of water. Heat on low heat, stirring until smooth and warmed through. Remove from heat and gently brush figs to give them a nice shiny glaze.
  8. Serve with your choice of beverage (mine, of course, is tea).

I hope you try the recipes – they are worth the effort!

[Also, my apologies for the post going up so late in the day. My desktop computer died on me today and it took a while to identify the issue. I do have my laptop but my desktop is now out of order for a while.]

+Update: I’ve finished my journal/sketchbook decorating, along with the box. Decided to add them into this post as they are rather summery and fun. Also, I bought a new sketchbook/journal that has sturdier pages as well as binding (my other one was not as durable as I’d like). The box (left) came wrapped in canvas, I just added everything else you see on it. However, to match that, I bought canvas sheets and wrapped the journal myself. Here they are 🙂

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Have a great week, everyone!

 

Blue Sky Paradise

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Lately I’ve been in a tropical mood. I miss the sunshine. Where I live, there is little to no sun these days…mostly just rain and grey skies. Though, today was a relatively nice day. Don’t get me wrong, I love our mountains and north-west nature, it truly is captivating and beautiful. Yet, my soul is most fulfilled laying under a palm tree while sipping on fresh coconut water (or a little virgin mojito out of a coconut).
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I have always said that I was born with the ocean, salty air, and sand in my soul. I greatly enjoy the water – especially listening to the waves. I love the smell and taste of coconuts, pineapples, mangoes, and basically any tropical fruit. I am happiest on a beach, with the sun on my shoulders, starring at a large body of blue water that I can run into and leave the world behind.

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While in my tropical mood, I have been craving all kinds of foods – most of which I’ve had during my travels. Today, I am sharing a recipe with you that brings me memories of hot sand, the salty breeze blowing from the ocean, and sunshine.

Coconut Shrimp with Tropical Rice:

For The Rice:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Zest of 1 lime (removed with a vegetable peeler), plus make wedges for serving
  1. Combine 1 cup water, the coconut milk, salt and pepper, rice and lime zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for about 8 minutes or until rice is tender but not fully cooked.
  3. Remove from the heat and discard lime zest; add cilantro, pineapple, and scallions, do not stir. Cover and let sit 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and stir to combine all ingredients.

For The Shrimp:

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking tray with foil and set a wire rack on top; coat the wire rack with oil.
  2. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Make a breading station by beating the egg and 2 tablespoons water in one bowl. Then combine the coconut and panko in a second bowl.
  3. Dip the shrimp in the egg mixture, then the coconut-panko, gently press on drink to make sure the coconut sticks; transfer to the prepared rack. Bake until the shrimp are fully cooked – should be about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn on the broiler  and broil for 2 minutes to lightly brown the coating of the shrimp
  5. Serve on side of rice with lime wedges
There is something magical about the beach; particularly if you can find a secluded spot with no one else around. It gives the mind a vacation. I guess you can say the ocean is my soul medicine.
There is also something magical about food. For example, food gives families a time to sit down together after a busy day, it can cheer someone up, it brings contentment to the stomach and spirit, and food creates a unique atmosphere.
I don’t need ostentatious restaurants that cost a fortune for a thumbnail worth of food. Give me a picnic of soul food on the beach with my sweetheart – that’s my perfect evening.
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I Bought a Journal.

 

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Hey everyone! I have been experiencing some internet troubles the past few days, hence the late post. It’s very irritating and I don’t know the cause of it (maintenance?). Anyway, on to today’s post:

In a previous post I wrote about my new year “resolutions” and in that post I spoke about Saturday being my day to unwind/de-stress. Since I was in high school, I have really enjoyed keeping journals. Oddly enough, as years went by, I forgot about the journals and have not written in them, nor started any new ones. However, I’ve recently become inspired to start again. I feel very excited about this because I believed I have reached a stage in my life where everything exciting in beginning to happen. I think that eventually it will be very heartwarming to look back on the documented memories. Journaling and writing letters is an ancient tradition, of course it has taken on many forms over the course of time, but one thing I know for sure is that keeping a journal is good for mental health (bonus: it’s fun).

Over the span of two days, I have acquired a sketchbook and a journal. The sketchbook will be transformed into a scrapbook journal, for documenting events/fun memories/trips and the like. While the other will be used for daily journaling – musings, general thoughts, etc. I also bought a nice box (which is wrapped in very pretty canvas) to store my scrapbook and journal supplies.

Non-digital photo albums are on their way out, which is unfortunate. I personally really enjoy having printed photos. Digital devices can break or you can accidentally delete something – many things can happen to digital copies of your memories; but physical prints (if kept well) can last for a very, very long time. I still use Costco’s photo printing service! Books and photos to me don’t feel the same if they are digital. Sure, the convenience of an online textbook is fantastic, but if I were to sit down and read a book for leisure, you can be sure that it will be a physical copy. As for photos, I have a lot of photos that I keep on my phone or computer as digital, because they aren’t all that meaningful. The photos I like to print are ones that are of memorable moments and have emotions attached to them, which is why my scrapbook journal will be the perfect place to keep those meaningful photos and events in a unique and fun form. Very excited!

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This is my daily journal.

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This is my scrapbook journal – the cover will be decorated, of course.

 

These are my two new journals! My daily journal says Happy Everything on the front of it, which I find to be an extremely uplifting reminder to smile. The scrapbook is just a regular, large sketchbook which I will vamp up. Once I have completed the set-up and acquired everything I desire, I will post updated pictures of all of my supplies along with my decorated box and scrapbook journal.

 

 

 

I am now off to kick-start my daily journaling and then off to slumber land! Have a good week, everyone.

P.S. I will be back again before next Tuesday with a new post, so check back soon 🙂

P.P.S. Here is a recipe for a good drink – I like to drink this on cool, dreary days as I write or do homework.

Coconut Hot Chocolate

What Goes in it:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 14 – ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 14 – ounce can sweetened condensed milk (2/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream

How to Make It:

Step 1: In a medium saucepan combine your milk, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk it all together. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk in cocoa powder until it is well incorporated.

Step 2: Keep on medium-low heat for a minute more after adding the cocoa powder, stir often. Then remove from heat and whisk in the pure vanilla extract. Serve in large mugs with whipped cream.

*To make this a dairy-free option, skip the whipped cream and replace the 3 cups of milk with almond milk or coconut milk*

Trust me, if it is cold and grey outside, this drink will make you feel ten times better.

 

 

How To Enrich Your Life

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Hello everyone!

I often hear people say “life is short”…well, it actually isn’t that short. It is literally the longest thing you can ever do. So, wouldn’t it be nice if the longest thing you ever did was the most pleasant thing you ever did? Of course. However, life is a mysterious road which, if we are lucky, is filled with more good mysteries to uncover than bad ones. No matter what, though, our life depends on us. Our attitudes, choices, decisions, actions, & thoughts. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we are in control, and though there are times we really aren’t, most of the time we can at least control our reactions. Training thoughts, attitudes, and reactions takes practice, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. I’m still working on that myself. While we are on the topic of life, I would like to share with you the ways which I have found to enrich my life – and by no means does it make me an expert on this, but perhaps you will find it to be a pleasant read (or maybe even inspiring). So here are some of the ways I enrich my life:

  1. Be a human sparkle. That doesn’t mean to be excessively vivacious or obnoxiously flamboyant. I mean that you shouldn’t restrain yourself from being bright and cheerful. Radiate positivity. Smile often. Be grateful. If you are in a poor mood, try making your significant other laugh – that will likely take the edge off your mood (plus it’s so uplifting to see your sweetheart smiling).
  2. Learn to value yourself. You are given one life, one chance to be you, one opportunity (with a million little ones sprinkled about) to make your life truly yours. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, don’t compete with the rest of the world. There is no such thing as perfect people, there is no such thing as flawless. Embrace everything about yourself- work on becoming the best version of your own unique self. As Dr. Seuss put it: “Today you are you, that’s truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you”. Through all of this though, stay humble.
  3. Take care of your mind. Keep your mind pure. Do not let thoughts corrupted by fears control you. Do not let anger and resentment consume you. Do not overthink/over analyze or brood. Do not evade communication or difficult conversations with those you love; express yourself in a kind, gentle, and sensitive manner. Quiet your mind through meditation, journal writing, going for a walk, or other methods which suit you best. Direct emotions & thoughts instead of letting them direct you; instead of reacting instantly, take a moment to reflect on and understand what the situation is. Often times our emotions do cloud the reality of a situation…it’s not wrong to feel the emotions, it’s just better to pause and take a moment before reacting. Let your thoughts and emotions flow like the river – accept their path, appreciate their significance, learn, grow, and let the “waters” of the mind flow peacefully.
  4. Believe. There may not be magic in the sense that we imagined it when we were kids, but there really is magic around us. There is a sense of magic in love, in a plate of delicious food, in the waves of the ocean, and even in a headbutt from your cat. Believe in the good; believe that everything will be okay and that all things will end up as they are meant to.
  5. Show your loved ones how much you care. We are all busy, but we all make time for what matters most to us. Take the time to show the people (or person) you love most just how much you appreciate them and care for them. It will not only enrich your life, but it will also enrich theirs.
  6. Take a Moment. Whether you are having your morning tea/coffee, reading a textbook, doing laundry, or eating dinner – take a moment. Even if it’s just a second, take that second to acknowledge the present. You don’t need to think about it for any prolonged period of time, nor give the moment any mental energy…all I suggest you do is just let the mind register it. We all seem to either be stuck in the past or living in the future, taking a second to register your present can help alleviate some stress.
  7. Celebrate your victories – even the tiny ones. I found that when I do this, I feel so much better. I mean it; be proud of yourself for all the things you accomplish, even if they seem trivial. Say you have never made a fancy dish before, and tonight you pick up a cookbook and cook something you’ve never even considered before. Be happy, be proud! It doesn’t have to be perfect, the fact that you did it is a cause to say ‘good job, self’. Do so in everything and watch how much further you go.

To end this post, I want to share a recipe with you which makes the best apple pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded tart apple
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • Honey and berries/fruit for serving

Method

  1. In a big mixing bowl, combine the egg, butter, milk, vanilla extract, and apple. Mix until well combined. In a second mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon. Give the dry ingredients a quick mix so that everything is blended together. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, adding a little at a time and making sure to mix well between each addition.
  2. Heat an oiled frying pan on medium heat. Use a small ladle or tablespoon to scoop the batter onto the pan. Cook until browned on both sides.
  3. Serve immediately with some fruit/berries and honey.

This recipe is great for a weekend breakfast treat, plus it’s pretty simple and quick to make.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!