The Best Tofu Veggie Burger

Although veggie patties take some elbow grease, I assure you it is completely worth it. Make a whole batch and freeze them for your next meals. Or even better, pop them in the toaster or microwave in the morning for a savoury breakfast.

I find this recipe very forgiving. If you don’t want left over ingredients -such as half an onion- feel free to toss them into the cooking process. You will be surprised by the amount of veggies crammed into these golden pucks.

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Virtual Thanksgiving Potluck with Underground Culinary Lab

Pumpkin Spinach Lasgna DSC_6670Thanksgiving is no longer around the corner! I hope you are having a lovely extended weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. I know I will be enjoying my reading week  to catch up on courses and to recharge myself. I could not ask for a better birthday gift than a week off (p.s. tomorrow I turn 21!). A month ago I purchased a new camera lens which I am still trying to get the hang of. To make up for the lack of savoury dishes on this blog, here it is. My friends from Underground Culinary Lab (UCL) invited me to a virtual double-date potluck. Ricelessasian and Matchachoco are good friends of mine from university and also the creative masters of the UCL blog. They made a delectable pumpkin loaf and healthy pumpkin oatmeal cookies here.  Check out their blog for delicious recipes, beautiful photographs, travel and much more. Pumpkin Spinach Lasgna DSC_6702 Continue reading

Rice Cooker Ratatouille

There is something humbling and beautiful about the word ratatouille.  Perhaps because it was a meal common among peasants and maybe because the charming Disney movie hit the heart in all the right places. Words cannot describe how much I love that Pixar movie, there is so much passion for food. Paired with the weather, a warm savoury dish couldn’t be more suitable for this time of year. The colourful leaves are falling and the air crisp. Continue reading

Summer’s End- Tomato Tart with Creamy Basil Filling (Vegan)

Nothing says rewarding like harvesting home grown vegetables and transforming them into a recipe.  Although the garden was started later in the spring and I did cheat by just buying a beefsteak tomato plant. Even though the plant looked healthy, maybe it was not the best quality because the tomatoes had a fibrous grainy texture which did not make it the best raw munching experience. It also developed some very sad blight fungus. Despite my efforts to remedy it with a solution of baking soda, vegetable oil and water many of the precious branches and leaves had to be removed. It came at a cost of trying to keep it organic and pesticide free. On the positive side, the blight did not affect the tomatoes. Continue reading

Dining Etiquette Night

This week was a crazy one. After midterms and assignments, we were bustling to put together our last assignment of the term. YAY, so relieved! Not to mention the  Apple Raspberry baby food that helped to keep me awake during one of those late night. After seeing them on sale I wanted to take the chance to discover what they taste like, trust me I don’t eat baby food all the time. I really liked the flavour combination. No shame, it was good and very smooth— not one lump!

On Tuesday, I attended an etiquette dinner event that I had to opportunity to be part of. Besides meeting to discuss the necessary items, the event’s poster design and menu selection were the main things I was responsible for.  It was not a big role but I was still glad to be part of it because I had so much fun last year as an attendee. Leanne Pepper was back again to guide us through the three course meal in teaching us about the knick knacks of contemporary (American) fine dinning. She is an etiquette and protocol consultant with experience in training business execs, students, adults and even children. I think dining etiquette is so important for making an impression, especially if it is for business or an interview. Some things that stuck out to me:

-Always follow the host’s lead. Such as only taking bread only after the host does, eating at the same pace, sitting after host takes seat,  etc. Rule of thumb: don’t do anything before the host does.
-When drinking soup, scoop outwards away from your body.
-If there is a bread basket, offer it to the someone, preferably on the left before yourself. And pass it to the right after your piece.
-Lay the napkin in a triangle shape on your lap, tip pointed away. To wipe your mouth, bring one of the corners up to your face. For any spills on your hands, wipe it on the inside flap of the triangle.
-Point tines down when you are putting food in your mouth.

It was a buffet styled dinner. After a tomato basil entree soup, we the main course with sides of  herbed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable medley.Seared chicken breast with tarragon cream sauceSeared chicken breast with tarragon cream sauce.
The vegetarian option: Ratatouille stuffed squash.The ratatouille stuffing had zucchini, bell peppers, onion, tomato, eggplant and tomato sauce. Doesn’t it look incredible? Must… recreate…recipe…
Leanne also gave us many tips for communication skills and explained the dining table anatomy. It was a great night with friends and students from other departments !
Our picture with Leanne and her signature fork over knife pose 🙂

Caponata Stew

Caponata stew

The biggest thing I love about cooking is that a delicious, healthy and appealing dish doesn’t have to involve many expensive ingredients or fancy processes of preparation. Caponata stew is one of those impressing dishes that has become the go-to meal for me recently. It’s easy to prepare and it will take up any of the vegetables you want to empty out of your fridge.  This recipe is from Laura Vitale’s  videos.

From what was found on google, caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish which is often eaten as a side dish, but also as a main dish.  It consists mainly of eggplants, olives, onions and herbs. However, for your reference this recipe is by no means a traditional one.

Caponata Stew
Serves: 5

Adopted from Laura Vitale but the same idea of veggies stewed in tomatoes is still kept. Very small changes to the amounts of the vegetables used, olives were omitted because I never have them at home, also omitted hot pepper flakes, vinegar (because the tomato sauce is already acidic) and red wine.

few tablespoons of oil for cooking vegetables
1 cup chopped carrots
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium-sized onion (or 3 shallots)
1 1/2 large bell pepper (you can mix up different colours)
1 large eggplant, chopped
1/2 cup marinated artichokes
~25 ounces (725 mL) of canned  tomato sauce
1/2 cup water (optional, used to lightly dilute tomato sauce)
1 tbsp brown sugar
a handful of raisins
salt and pepper to taste
dried or fresh basil to taste

1. Use enough oil to cook all the vegetables except for the artichokes in a pot or a cooking pan that will be able to hold all the ingredients together. Cook on medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes or until they begin to soften. Cooking everything in one pot will help make cleaning a lot easier.

2. Season with salt and pepper. Add in tomato sauce, artichokes,water and raisins. Let it cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes with occasionally stirring, or until the stew is thick and vegetables are tender.

3. Add in sugar and season with salt/pepper/basil.

4. Serve hot and enjoy. Leftovers can be refrigerated and frozen.

It’s hearty, filling and definitely something of a comfort food which is why I think it would be great for a holiday meal. You can have caponata with bread, pasta, noodles, in lasagna, and with other vegetables. Add in whatever else you desire. I am planning on adding cooked beans to this next time.

Days until Christmas: 4

Blueberry Heaven

The last day of July has arrived and I’m ready for August! Even though summer is almost over, I am excited to see what will for the next season. This morning started off with a peanut butter jelly sandwich and an addition of some spinach. I also had some yogurt and blueberries. I am slowly working at the abundance of blueberries in the fridge by snacking on them with meals and throughout the day. My family and I went blueberry picking on Sunday and I had way too much fun. Oh the taste of them never gets boring. It’s blueberry heaven! Today is also the last of my summer course hooray! I finished my exam and grabbed lunch at a salad bar to eat on the way home.  It was pouring this afternoon! That was more rain than we’ve seen in months and months. After returning home from the grocery store,  I made myself a simple guacamole with half an avocado and some fresh lemon juice.  My new favourite chips are the Lentil Chips, this time I tried the Cracked Pepper flavour. Honestly speaking, I ate one too many chips before thinking of how nice  they would be when accompanied by a green dip. Now that I am unchained from school, I need to get moving and back the routine I had with Tabata and running. Tonight’s dinner is just a light salad and some left over quinoa salad. The salad had cucumber, blueberries, sliced almonds and feta cheese.  The quinoa salad is an easy throw-together of corn, edamame, tofu and some of the backyard green beans. The ingredients were mainly frozen.

Yellow and Green Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • frozen corn
  • frozen edamame
  • chopped green beans
  • 4 nuggets frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup extra firm tofu, crumbled or cubed
  • fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the quinoa. Before draining the quinoa, add in the frozen corn, edamame, green beans and spinach.
  2. After draining everything, drizzle olive oil, lemon juice and salt+pepper.
  3. The tofu can be crumbled or cubed. I chose not to pan-cook them but you may also do so.
  4. Mix well and serve.

    Some more photos of our blueberry picking adventure:Blueberry pancakes to begin! Look at that cutie digging in. My brother is hard at work searching for the big ones!It was his idea  to squeeze blueberries into his nose. I hope he doesn’t kill me for this!I am headed to the swimming pool in half an hour. Goodnight!

Green Bean Surprise

The morning started off with a sweet-toothed breakfast. I had a bit of cantaloupe, a slice of banana bread with yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and cherries on the side. Oh it was sweet! Can you believe that the month of July is almost over? The thought of summer ending makes me sad. First on the list was the hair salon. My hair was trimmed and my mom had new highlights. Everything turned out well 🙂 and the stylist did it just how I wanted it. Then we grabbed lunch finishing some grocery shopping. Marinated artichokes are my new favourite obsession. I wasn’t too hungry for dinner because I snacked on some homemade larabars after coming home. With left over breadcrumbs, fresh mozzarella, marinara sauce, a tomato and some tofu out came something similar to pesto tomato tofu bake. It was a great side the salmon and steamed corn. After dinner I took a moment to ponder on the thriving garden before heading out for a swim. I was surprised to find so many ripe green beans dangling under the big leaves and the lovely blossoms. They are beautiful and some of them were yellow. And tomorrow I will try to use them up for dinner. Goodnight!

Books Galore at the Biggest Bookstore

Happy Thursday! The weather is finally clearly up from all the humidity and the heat-alert frenzy. It is so crisp out today and it’s nice to have some gloominess hiding the scorching sun for a change. I have been home-bound since the beginning of the week scrambling together a major essay. Or should I say, procrastinating. Anyhow, I signed up for another 5k in August that will take place in Toronto. I was planning to participate in the Toronto Women’s 10k run prior to the notice but that can be left for another time.

This morning in class the A.C. was colder than usual. Has anyone else heard that decreased body temperature produces more melatonin, and better sleep? I was yawning until class the professor called it an end. In need of something steeeaming hot, I ventured to a new café. The atmosphere is so unique. I love the old-fashioned designs and the classiness.

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Wrappin’ Up That Week

Happy Monday! The new “Checklist” page was added and it is a list of personal achievements or random interests I hope to tackle.  And the spinach ricotta lasagna will be upcoming in the next post!

I was very proud of myself for beating the alarm clock by a whole hour this morning.  The course midterm exam was set for 9AM, so I wanted to squeeze in extra time to study after breakfast. I was able to take more time in my morning routine and to eat slower too. Breakfast was rye bread with peanut butter, 1/3 of a large avocado and blueberries. And a drizzle of honey  on the avocado for an extra kick of sweetness.Enjoyed every bite of the breakfast sandwich  🙂 I like to put avocado slices on bread when they are abundant and in season. The tartness of the blueberries went well with the creamy texture of the avocado. Continue reading