Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eat Your Greens - Part II

I'm on a green kick again!! And this time the culprit is...

Brussel sprouts

I know what you're probably thinking. Ewww...brussel sprouts look like little brains. You couldn't even pay me to eat them, let alone make them for supper! Fair enough, I can't force you to love them but I can try to make you like them...even just a little ;).

I picked up my brussel sprouts from the Farmer's Market on Saturday with the pure intention of trying a new recipe. After a bit of searching I found one from HowSweetItIs and knew that it was a winner.

For one, it uses toasted pecans...

...as well as sautéed onions and garlic.

After chopping the ends off the brussel sprouts and cutting them in half I added them to the onions/garlic and roasted for about 10 minutes.

Then I added the toasted pecans and drizzled browned butter over the whole thing.

Did you hear that? I think my arteries just cried in anguish. But everything in moderation, right?


So, the next time you're looking to be an adventurous eater, think of the humble brussel sprout. You may be pleasantly taken by surprise :).

Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Brown Butter & Toasted Pecans (from HowSweetItIs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb raw brussel sprouts, halved with stems cut off
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans
Toast pecans in a skillet over medium/low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring every minute to prevent burning.

Heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a large skillet. Saute onion and garlic until slightly golden in colour (~3 minutes). Add brussel sprouts, salt and pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes until brussel sprouts are soft. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat**. Remove brussel sprouts from heat and stir in pecans. Drizzle butter over everything, serve, and enjoy!

**Note: original recipe says to whisk butter continuously until it gets golden in colour and gold flecks appear. I kind of attempted this but ultimately failed, perhaps because I don't have a whisk and I wasn't really even stirring the butter. Maybe next time...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Eat your greens!

Cilantro...it's one of my favourite herbs of all time! The taste is so fresh and distinct and can bring an ordinary dish to life.

My only dilemma? It comes in BULK. Well, in reality it's not bulk but they come in bundles so large that I know at least half of it will go bad...pity :(. But about a month ago my roomie told me an ingenious way of storing cilantro and my life is now forever changed! Are you curious?

First, chop up your cilantro/coriander...it's actually the same thing.

Next, place cilantro in an ice cube tray and add a bit of water (note: amount of water that you see in this pic is a tad too much). Stick ice cube tray in the freezer.

A few hours later, pull the tray out and admire your cilantro ice cubes 

Pop out your ice cubes! Again, too much water here but you get the idea. When you need some cilantro for a recipe just grab one from the freezer and thaw. Granted, it's doesn't taste quite as fresh but it is definitely beats half of my cilantro rotting!

Speaking of greens, I tried a new recipe by Michael Smith - garlic scented broccoli!

It was tasty but I would have preferred a bit more flavour. Next time I will probably add a splash of soy sauce...because it's what my asian genes crave :P.

Happy Monday!

Garlic Scented Broccoli
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • water
  • oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • soy sauce (for next time!)
Take a medium-sized saucepan and fill it with water, 1/4" deep. Add a tsp (or so) of oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and soy sauce. Bring to a light boil over medium heat.

Add broccoli and let steam in water for approx. 5 minutes, until vibrant green in colour. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dinner chez...the asian aunties!

Way back at the beginning of October me and my roomies had the pleasure of dining chez Chef Bublé. At the end of the evening we all thanked Leslie and Bublé and insisted that they come over to our place in the near future for dinner.

Well fast forward almost 4 months and we finally found time to all get together! Why it took so long I can't even begin to explain! Well...it may have had something to do with the neuroscience exam and the fact that December was a crazy busy month.

Once we settled on a date the challenge was on to put together the perfect meal! It took a lot of brainstorming but we finally chose the following for the menu:


Brie Cheese and Jalapeno Gouda Cheese with Stone Ground Wheat Crackers

Tomato Basil Bruschetta
(see below for recipe)


Asian-flavoured Quinoa
(click here for recipe)

Cherry Tomato and Basil Salad with Mozzarella Balls

Orange-Ginger Pork Tenderloin
(recipe below)


Molten lava cakes, served with vanilla frozen yogurt, mixed berries and chocolate chips

Everything turned out superbly and it definitely would not have been possible without the help of my roomies (aka my Igors...hey, they chose the name themselves :P)

After dinner we played a game of Settlers of Catan which Helen ruthlessly won. It was Bublé's first time playing and she didn't even give him a chance. See the red line going across the board in the picture below? Yeah...that was Helen's road to victory :P.

Then Leslie and Bublé introduced us to Words With Friends (scrabble app for the iPhone) and we all became consumed with that. Such a sad, sad picture below but I swear we were talking with each other!

Leslie and Bublé, it was wonderful having you both over last night! The Asian Aunties greatly enjoyed your company :).


Tomato Basil Bruschetta (from Chef Michael Smith)
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • a handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, finely sliced
  • cilantro (our own addition to the original recipe)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat broiler. Generously brush each slice of bread with olive oil and toast until golden brown on both sides.

Rub both sides of the toasted bread with the garlic. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella cheese on each slice of bread and return to the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts a bit.

Chop tomatoes and toss twith basil leaves, greeen onions, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Place a spoonful on top of each bread slice. Serve!

Orange-Ginger Pork Tenderloin (from my classmate Tish)
  • butter
  • oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp peeled, minced ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 pork tenderloins
In a small bowl,  mix 2 tbsp OJ with cornstarch. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil and add onion, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently until onion is light golden. Add the rest of the OJ, the chicken broth and soy sauce. Simmer until reduced to 1 cup. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer 1 min.

Cut tenderloins crosswise into 6 slices. Flatten with hands and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil. Add pork in batches until browned and cooked through (4-5 min per side). Transfer pork to a platter. Add the orange ginger sauce to the skillet (with juices from the pork) and heat. Toss pork in sauce until coated. Serve!

Note: you can also let the pork simmer in the sauce for a bit. This is what I did while everyone was eating appetizers to keep the dish warm.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fine dining at the my doorstep

Sometimes the best-kept secrets of your city are right at your own doorstep. And while Onyx and their Wednesday special is not much of a secret in Halifax I am still surprised that I've never been before, especially since I literally live a hop away from the restaurant.

Last night I went for a relaxing evening out with some classmates to Onyx and enjoyed every moment of it, from the company to the atmosphere. Oh and the Wednesday special of course :)

Live Jazz (no cover)
No corkage fee
1/2 price appetizers

Now that's my kind of deal ;).

I ended up splitting 3 different appetizers with my roomie Helen because we pretty much wanted to try every single thing on the menu! In the end we ordered:

Beef carpaccio - razor thin slices of beef tenderloin, shaved parmesan, black truffles;

Ahi tuna, dusted with fennel seed, lavender & crushed pepper, pineapple-banana pepper relish; and

Arancini - fried saffron risotto balls with double charred tomato sauce.

Every dish was delicately assembled to perfection but if I had to choose a favourite it would be the beef carpaccio. It was an excellent blend of savoury, spicy, and sweet. I swear it appeared in my dream that night!!

After the appetizers we were all in the mood for a sweet indulgence. Cec ordered the blackforest cake (deconstructed) while Tish ordered the creme brulee with chocolate biscotti. Both looked amazing!

As for Helen and myself, we ordered the apple pie which was prepared right by our table and served with aged cheddar.

Cheddar and apple...who knew it was such a good combination!!

Onyx, I will definitely be back soon to explore the rest of your appetizer menu. Thank you for your awesome Wednesday special!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marathon training

Waaaaay back at the beginning of the month I announced that I had decided to run a marathon. Since then I've been pretty quiet on the topic of running, but do not despair...I have been getting my miles in :). To be honest, I haven't followed a specific program for the past month because the marathon isn't until the end of the summer (pleeeeenty of time!). But as I was looking in my calendar I came across this:

Oh right...the 12 week pre-marathon running program...

So yes, I do actually have a plan ;). I chose this pre-marathon program because I do well with structure...and because if it were up to me I probably would put off running anything over 10k for eternity! The distances covered in the 12 weeks don't actually exceed the 10k mark but what it will do is increase my running frequency throughout the week. Some of the runs are actually pretty short so I'll probably aim to set my minimum at 5k.

From there I'll be moving to this 18 week program.  There are hundreds of marathon training programs out there and if you're wondering why I chose this one my answer is pretty simple:

It looks do-able.

I know...I know...so deep! Sorry if you were looking for a more scientifically-based answer.

For the next 12 weeks I won't be posting on every single run I do but I will highlight the ones that are particularly fun or challenging. And (of course) when I can I'll try bringing my camera with me to capture the journey and moments like this:

A sunrise in Halifax...gosh I love living here!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why so angry?

Growing up, I never had a natural knack for the arts. Sure, I could color inside the lines (I even won 2 colouring contests) but if you ever asked me to create something off the top of my head it would be a sad, sad situation! All I'm gonna say is thank goodness for the Internet because it allows me to try out fun projects that others have graciously decided to share with the world...such as these Angry Birds cupcakes :).

I discovered these cuties a couple weeks ago while procrastinating from school work (story of my life). How could I not want to try these?? Since I do all of my ambitious baking at my parents' place it's been more of an issue of timing. The opportunity finally presented itself this weekend and I actually suckered both of my sisters actually helped with the Angry Birds project :P.

After a bit of searching I decided on a recipe for the chocolate cupcakes and the icing. Word of warning: if I were to make these again I would choose a different icing recipe. While this one tasted good it was too oily (from the butter) and I ended up having to add flour to smooth it out. Actually, that was my sister's idea...she literally saved my butt on this one!

I added dye to the icing...

And smothered the cupcakes with love ;).

Next came the sprinkles (for all the cupcakes except the piggies).

And then we put the details on the birds and pigs using black licorice strings, mini marshmallows, large marshmallows, and orange gummy slices.

All of the decorating ingredients were purchased at Bulk Barn and came to a whopping total of $10 (P.S. I still have TONS left!!).

What do you think?

My personal favourites are the yellow birds. Their sprinkles look a lot like feathers!

A big THANKS to my sisters for helping me with these!! Miriam hunted down the ingredients with me on Saturday and spotted the sprinkles at Bulk Barn as I was about to crumble in despair. Sarah saved the icing and helped assemble the cupcakes. I couldn't have done it without them.

Note the red bird with the googly eyes (bottom row, second from the left). He was our first attempt and the results gave us a good laugh! For the other cupcakes we chopped the marshmallows in half. 

So...why are the angry birds so angry? Possibly because they know they'll be eaten during tutorial tomorrow :P. Happy Sunday!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Impossible Present

When it comes to buying Christmas presents for my dad it's been a lot of trial and error throughout the years. The combination of him being chinese PLUS an engineer just sets me up for failure.

For example...

Me: Look dad, I got you these clothes for Christmas!
Dad: How much did they cost?
Me: Ummm...*specifies amount*
Dad: Too much!! I could get double the amount of clothes with that money.


Me: Dad, what would you like for Christmas?
Dad: Oh you know...a 1000 piece screwdriver set.
Me: *sighs in despair*

Finally one year I smartened up and realized that dad: (a) likes food, and (b) likes a lot of it!! Since then I've typically treated him out to a restaurant of his choice. This time we went to Koo-e-nami for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Note: if you can't stand the appearance of raw meat then you should probably stop reading :P.

I had been to Koo-e-nami earlier in the week to try it out and was impressed by the texture and flavour of the meat. You can actually order a sample platter that lets you try everything and from there you can specify what you want more of.

Meat and seafood plates...yummm!!

There's actually a grill built right into the table so you can grill the meat to your preference.

My favourites were the spicy chicken and beef but the octopus (octopi??) were the most fun to play with ;).


My dad was pleasantly full at the end and we really enjoyed spending the time together. It isn't too often that we get to have a father-daughter date. After last night I've decided that it needs to happen more often!

Thanks for being such a wonderful dad :).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Deal breaker cookies

Last Wednesday my CBL tutor brought in some amazing homemade baklava for the tutorial group. In past experiences I've rarely enjoyed the dessert, but this time it was love at first bite. He even offered us the recipe but there was a catch...

That Joey (pictured below) sing a song for us.

For those of you who don't know Joey, you're probably thinking, "He looks friendly enough. In fact, it's not a far stretch to believe he was about to burst into song when you took this picture."

Well unfortunately I don't have quite as much faith in him, so after one bite I half-begged him to sing for the recipe. *sigh*...what a girl will do for good food!

When the case wrapped up Joey agreed to sing under 2 conditions:

1.) That he get mentioned in my blog (check!)
2.) That someone bake the baklava within the next 7 days (to which I happily agreed).

Are you curious what the song of choice was? Click here to find out (p.s. I had to search high and low for the official music video as it's no longer on youtube!). I would have recorded the whole thing but Joey thought otherwise...

"Put the camera away ZEE!"

So what is this amazing baklava recipe? I actually don't have it!! We showed up to tutorial on Monday and to our utmost dismay our tutor (after talking with his wife) said that the singing wasn't enough. The bar was raised to dancing.

Now, as much as I enjoyed the baklava I wouldn't wish solo dancing in public (let alone in daylight) on anyone. As I see it, Joey held his end of the deal and so I'm holding my end as much as I can. He'll just have to forgive me for bringing in oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (from here on known as deal breaker cookies) as a baklava substitute.

I know...life can be so difficult sometimes :P.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Eat Butter

When Two If By Sea announced that they had a new location in Halifax I pretty much jumped for joy. It's one of my favourite cafes in HRM but I rarely have the time to make the trip to Dartmouth. So when my friend Sarah and I were choosing a location for our next coffee date it was pretty obvious of where we should go!

Located in the heart of Historic Properties, TIBS has a quaint set-up and shares a spacious dining area with other local restaurants.

This morning I ordered the Coffee of the Day as well as the almond croissant. I admit I was a little nervous that the quality wouldn't be up to par with my previous experiences but I was proven wrong! The croissant was rich with flavour and didn't skimp out on the almonds. And the texture was the perfect combination of buttery and flaky.

Yes, you read the bag right.

I do give a word of warning that these croissants are a generous size and very filling. It actually counted for my breakfast AND lunch...and powered me through a 5.8km run this afternoon! Quite impressive ;)

TIBS, thank you for coming to Halifax!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Branching out!

Last week I confessed that I'm not much for new years resolutions but that I do make monthly goals with my roomie Marion. Well yesterday, one of my January resolutions was fulfilled:

Try a new (healthy) recipe

Branching out and trying new recipes is a big step for me. It's not that I'm a picky eater...I am simply a creature of habit. I'd like to think I was conditioned to this behaviour from childhood where my lunches from day-to-day went something like this:

Primary - Grade 5: peanut butter sandwiches
Grades 6-8: nutella sandwiches
Grades 9-12: soup

You get the picture. If that doesn't say habitual then I don't know what does!

So yesterday when Marion said she needed to go to the supermarket I saw it as an opportune time to pick up the lacking ingredients for "Simple Eggs & Salsa" (pictured below).

It was actually quite easy (I break it down step-by-step here but the full recipe is also posted at the end). The salsa used 1cup diced tomato, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup red onion and 1/4 cup red pepper. Mix together and add 2 Tbsp lime juice then refrigerate while prepping everything else.

Meanwhile I heated 2 tortilla wraps in the oven (250F for 5 min) and scrambled 1 egg with 2 egg whites. To the mixture I added 1/3 cup of the salsa and then spooned it into the wraps.

So...how was it? Pretty tasty actually! The only thing I would change would be to add some seasoning. Maybe a dash of salt and pepper to bring out the flavours. Either that or adding some ketchup would make this meal divine :).

Simply Eggs & Salsa

  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tortilla wraps
Preheat oven to 250F. Mix tomato, cilantro, red onion, red bell pepper and lime juice in a bowl. Place in refrigerator. Place tortilla wraps in the oven. Scramble the egg and egg whites, then add 1/3 cup of salsa. Take wraps out of oven and spoon the eggs and salsa onto them. Enjoy!