Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014


Christmas Day with the family. Unfortunately, grams was a little under the weather to join us for present opening, but that meant we had a second present opening session later on when she did feel better. A very casual, relaxing day spent together as Christmas Day always is. There was more grubbing with a relatively big feast cooked by Dad. This year, amongst so many great presents from family and friends, I got four more cookbooks to add to my collection : Momofuku by David Chang, Cook with Jamie : My Guide To Making You A Better Cook, and Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking (Volume I and II). Here's to always learning and eating great food in the new year! 

Hope you're all having a Merry Christmas too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So This Is Christmas...

I only managed to sneak a few photos here and there amongst the chaos of a Christmas Eve party. And that's perfectly fine with me. Just a few to spark my memory when I happen to flip back to this in the future. Instead, I was soaking up all the fun of pigging out on delicious food, playing with the kiddies, participating in the most epic gift exchange, and just being with my bestests and closests.

We have less and less friends showing up or staying for these parties because of the babies, and some traditions get lost or forgotten as the years go by, but new friends appear and definitely a whole lot of fun watching the kiddies explore the party scene with their curiosity. This Christmas, we made a massive amount of Christmas cookies again with crazy gingerbread designs (like football players, Bruce Lee, Batman, Buzz Lightyear, nurses - to name a few). I spent a lot of the Christmas Eve party entertaining and being entertained by S, who was still mildly sick from her kiddie cold or flu. Still, she was a ball of energy after a piece of cake and chocolate, and was bouncing from aunties to strangers and back to aunties. She jumped on me a few times and did not hesitate to smear her snotty "present" on my sweater and jeans. People pointed out all the "stains" on my outfit at the end of the party, but I really didn't care. Cuz it's S. And I love her to bits. She's so crazy cute. Especially with her bopping pigtails.

The epic gift exchange was upped to $15 this year, which brought all the gifts to a whole new level. However, nobody seems to remember to give the newbies to the game a heads-up that our secret santa white elephant exchange does not really comprise of silly, but infact, very practical (usually household) items. This always leads to great laughs when someone opens a funny one (like a teenage mutant ninja turtle camera or a telescope). Too much excitement caused wine glasses flying! (reaction caught in one of the photos). The volume of our voices go up several notches during the exchange game, which made S scream out, "LOUD!". Not that she was protesting... but that she also got to join in on the fun of ... yelling. All the while, R was sleeping so soundly in the next room, and didn't even flinch all night. I have a feeling R, S's baby sister, might have a calmer temperament compared to S. (But hey, who knows. R is only 6 weeks... ).

I'll just let the very few pictures I took tell the story of fun, excitement and laughter that we all experienced during this very happy Christmas season. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pesto Paparadelle With Cayenne Butternut Squash

'Tis the season for butternut squash!

What is your favorite pasta? Mine has to be paradelle. It's a large, broad, and flat noodle. I love the noodles that flops over your fork, yet fat enough that it gives a certain satisfying kind of mouthfeel. ("mouthfeel" = a physical and chemical reaction in the mouth that occurs from the initial perception on the palate to the first bite. In more simple terms, the "texture". Have definitely been watching too much Australia's Master Chef, which by the way, is ten times better than the American or Canadian version). I think the thickness of the noodle also allows more of the sauce to hang on to it, giving each bite just that much more flavour.

Anyway, before I go off on a tangent into la la food dreamland, (as I've been doing way too often already), this is how I made this delicious, yet simple pasta.

I have to say that this Fall, one of the biggest and bestest time saver (and yes, I know bestest is not a word), is freezing premade pesto cubes. My dad had grown an abundance of herbs, including copious amounts of basil, so the only natural thing to do to save them, was to make homemade pesto and freeze them in ice cube trays.

Blend together in a blender :

2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 minced garlic
1/3 cup parmesan-reggiano cheese

These are approx. measurements as we usually just dump in whatever we have. Freeze them into cubes, and then pop them all into a clean bag. So whenever I'm feeling lazy, I'll boil up some pasta and mix in a couple cubes of pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. It's so, so good.

I did exactly that with this recipe. Boiled the pasta and added the frozen cube pesto. Then, I roasted some butternut squash to go on top. Recipe from Rachel Ray.

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
oil to coat
salt and pepper
1/8 cinnamon
1/8 cayenne pepper

Mix all above and roast for 20-25 mins under 425C.

I'll have to admit that they both taste amazing separately. But I wasn't so big on the cinnamon Fall flavour pairing with pesto. I would definitely make these two again but for separate dishes. Perhaps some roasted tomatoes or garlic-sauteed tomatoes with some chicken on top of the pesto, and the butternut squash dish as a side with other Fall vegetables. Definitely adding to my "easy, no fuss" repetoire though.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Brunch and Shop

When KDer and I have not much to do on a lazy Sunday, we fall to our default brunch place and our default thing to do after brunch. And I love these lazy kind of Sundays.

I have to admit that sometimes, I'm more concerned about taking a photo, any photo, to go with a post for this blog, but today, I decided to keep all cameras (including the phone) away. Nor did I do any facebook or instagram tagging. Of course, this isn't going to be the case all the time, (I love me some visuals and social media obsessing), but today was just not one of those days. It wasn't even so much a mindful reminder to turn off the electronics once in a while, but truly wanting to engage in conversation with the people I was brunching with and enjoying the walk outdoors in between stores when shopping. And that is what I did.

Ray, KDer and I ended up at Joe's Grill on West 4th for our classic brunch. It's our go-to place for a very ordinary but good scrambled eggs, sausage, hash and toast. Getting some hearty breakfast food for $7? Can't really complain about that.

Then we left Ray to have some serious girly shopping time. Made our way down to Main St. to browse the independent boutiques there. Karen picked up a super practical pair of rainboots from Much & Little, and I ended up with a cute maroon toggle jacket and two sweaters that I swore to KDer that that's all I'm going to wear this season and the next (to justify why I'm buying more sweaters than I already have).

After a very satisfying shopping trip, we strolled on over to the Last Crumb for a cup of warm london fog. We sat outside and chatted about "life" (or mainly, about how having a baby could change your life) and people watched. The weather has been unusually warm. It's almost November and temperature has been reaching high teens or sometimes even in the 20's of celsius degrees. But hey, this is Vancouver. The weather can be somewhat unpredictable and completely switch on ya overnight.

By the way, do you know the difference between a toggle jacket and a duffle jacket? Toggle jackets describe the horn-like buttons/closures of the jacket, while duffle jacket describes the coarse wool that is woven in a city called Duffle. But when describing these jackets, these terms are often interchanged.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pear and Pistachio Crumble

I searched high and low for a Fall dessert. Something warm and cozy. And of course, above all, (as mentioned over and over again in this blog), easy. And this is it.

I made this for our family Thanksgiving dinner. A perfect ending to the coma-inducing turkey feast. It was crazy good... almost soothing. The pears held its natural sweet flavour with nothing much mixed to it except for a little cinnamon to add that bit of "Fall" to them. It was an absolute perfect match with the pistachios in the crumble, adding some buttery nut richness to the dessert. Took it out of the oven, and top it with a scoop of Hagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream. (Spend the extra couple dollars for a quality ice cream! you won't regret it. Quality = understanding all ingredients listed in the ingredient list). This is definitely going in on my permanent, must-make-again list. If I were to make any adjustment to the recipe, I'd probably add just a tad more pistachios. Make it 3/4 cups.

Adapted from :


5 pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp- 1 tbsp lemon juice (I used 1 tbsp. just b/c I like the acid. But wasn't very apparent in the final product)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pistachios


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine pears and cinnamon and toss with lemon juice.
3. In separate bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt.
4. Working with fingers, crumble butter into flour mixture until combined and about the size of peas. Mix in the pistachios and set aside.
5. Pour the pears into greased baking dish and cover with the oat mixture.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving - from my family to yours!

Dad decided to make the turkey and stuffing, while I made all the trimmings. I decided to go super heck simple (as always) so that I won't be in some sort of frantic mess at the end of it all, and still be able to enjoy dinner. Thanksgiving isn't about the fancies anyway. So, I made a super easy three-bean salad, classic mashed potatoes, and butter carrots.

Recipe for three-bean salad :

Green beans cut up and blanched
1/2 can of red kidney beans
1/2 can of cannellini beans
1/2 shallot, chopped
olive oil
dijon mustard
chopped parsley
chopped basil
salt and pepper

This could have been a disaster of a Thanksgiving. Well, sort of. If you want to be dramatic about it. We had the turkey in the oven for a couple of hours. Dad decided to get off the couch in between to go baste the big bird, when he noticed that the oven was awfully bright. The element in the oven was on fire! The turkey was only half cooked. Dad goes "Oh well", and suggests we cut up the turkey and microwave it in sections. I'm looking at him like that can't even be an option! So, my dad... always being the one to please his sometimes rather stubborn and demanding daughter, runs out to the nearest Rona's, and buys the part to fix the oven. Within half an hour, the oven was back up and running, and the turkey continued to bake. It came out perfectly. (Thank goodness for a dad who's such an awesome handyman).

Because it's Thanksgiving, I got to give thanks. I am most thankful for my family and friends. My health. And just each and every day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday Evenings

I've been loving loving loving Tuesday evenings. I've scheduled myself for early shifts on Tuesdays for the next several months so I could be a part of a volleyball league. The last time (since the start of the league two weeks ago) I touched a vball was probably 10 years ago... when I played in intramurals after school during my years in pharmacy school. I was never great. Never good even. But, I have so much fun. I love it.

Yesterday night, I worked a night shift. This morning, I worked a morning shift. These back to back shifts are sometimes pretty brutal, and I'm pretty exhausted afterwards. When I got off work today, I wasn't sure I'd last to make it to vball. But, even in the zombie state I was, I went home, changed into proper gear, did a horrible tape job on my sprained thumb, and out the door I went.

Once I'm on the court though, I always find a second wind. My teammates (consisting of people I've only met two weeks ago at the start of the season) have been pretty amazing. All very relaxed and supportive. We cheer at all our great hits and wins. We cheer at all our misses and loss. We're laughing all the time, whether it's really all that funny or not. We are all there with the same intentions - to have a great time playing volleyball.

We have players of all playing levels. We are part of a rec team, but some do play better than others. But no matter your skills or there lack of, everyone is really great with each other. I really can't ask for a better team made up of individual sign-ups. By this third week, I can already feel us gelling as a team. Mainly in spirit. Once you got that, even the playing falls in to place. We've been winning some and losing some. The ones we lose, we come so close. Not that any of us care.

I come home tonight feeling energized. Don't know if it's the sport or the people. Or both. Whatever it is, I'm loving Tuesday evenings.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pear Tart

Fall and Winter months means spending more time on baking. When it's cooler outside, all I want to do is fire up the oven, bake up a storm, and wait for the heavenly aromas to fill the air. Perfect pairing with a cup of tea. I love summer, but I've also been looking forward to whipping out my scarf collection and changing up my wardrobe to cozy sweaters. Watching the leaves on the trees change to gorgeous orange and red hues is also on my Fall favorites list. Along with baking. 

I love cooked (poached or baked) pears. With the crazy number of hours I spend looking up and studying recipes, (trust me... it's probably my biggest time waster), I've come to find a whole lot of pastry recipes that require way too many techniques, steps, and wait-time. As much as I'd love to learn those things too, for the most part, I simply don't have the time. Easy, simple and tasty are the recipes I love to collect. 

Will post the recipe up later. Just about to run out the door for an afternoon coffee with dad. See, I simply don't have the time!

Edited to include recipe : 

Adapted from Real Simple magazine :


1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, at room temp
1 c. AP flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. sugar, plus 1 1/2 tbsp 
1 large egg
2 to 3 bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored ( can use canned)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c. apricot preserve
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
whipped cream (optional)


1. Heat oven to 350F
2. Butter a 14-inch rectangular tart pan and set aside.
3. Combine the flour and baking powder in medium bowl and set aside.
4. Using electric mixer, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed in a large bowl. Lower speed to medium, add egg, and beat until incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture until fully incorporated. Dough will be soft.
5. Push dough into pan with floured fingers to form even crust. Arrange pear halves, top to bottom, cut-side down. Sprinkle with cinnamon and remaining sugar. Bake until crust is golden brown (45 minutes).
6. Heat apricot jam and lemon juice in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and brush gently over cooled tart. 

(Tart can be prepared and stored at room temp, loosely covered with foil, up to 1 day in advance.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Vancouver,BC - Summer

Holding on to the last couple days of summer weather. But looking forward to the autumn air.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lunchbox #1 - Basil Chicken

It doesn't take much for me to crave a certain food. Someone mentions something yummy or I spot someone's delicious lunch, and I'll keep thinking about it until I can get it. (If only I was so driven with more important things). The latest crave was thai basil chicken. (I get cravings so often I don't even remember where it came from originally).

So, I made it for lunch to take to work. Along with the orange yams, green broccoli, and the red peppers that I added to the chicken, I think I had my rule of "eating my colours" down for this one. I compartmentalize the lunch container for my veggies, carbs and protein... making it more neat and appetizing. For me anyway. Or I just like playing with my food. Perhaps next time, I'll make a bento box.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back To The Past On The Courts

Icing my hand because of a finger sprain. The sprain itself feels oh-so-familiar. Accident prone. That's what I am. 

Back on the vball courts tonight. Since intramurals during my pharmacy school days. It gave me a high back then. Even though I wasn't very good. 

Same thing tonight. It felt pretty amazing to be back. I was wondering if I even remember the rules of the game, but once I was on the court, it all came back pretty quickly. 

I loved it. For an hour and a half, everything else escaped my mind. My new team mates were great. Supportive, nice and fun. The opposing teams were all pretty cool too. 

After a sprain and a skinned knee, I'm feeling pretty awesome still. ( next week, I'll remember to bring my knee pads and tape my fingers).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mika Turns One

Last photo : Mikaela with daddy (my cousin). 

Rah @ 2 Years And 4 Months

Seriously... really seriously... who can resist that face??!!

Gosh, I not-so-secretly love her to death. She has a lot of other kids her age, but amongst our close group of friends on her mom's side, she is so far the only toddler. So, when we all got together one night, she was the entertainment of the night.

Us crazing aunties were teaching her how to krump and getting her to say, "I'm baller!". We all have a dozen videos of her that night. And I've watched them over and over again several times. Is that crazy? I'm just so crazy in love with her cuz she's so adorable. She makes you laugh out loud. And who doesn't love a good laugh.

Auntie Kat took a polaroid of her. I asked her if I could see it. Rah replies in her cute little voice, "Nooooo... shake it!! MAGIC!!". It totally killed me (with cuteness). Yet she never hesitates to share her ice cream with me... sticking her spoon in my mouth when least expected.

She's grown so much since this post and this post!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Babysitting Mia & Maddy

I got to babysit a four and six year-old for an afternoon. Their parents dropped them off with a gigantic bag of snacks and a movie. But, I had other things in mind. I gotta admit. Sometimes I go overboard with what I have mind.... in the four hours I was left with these kids, we did some arts and crafts, played "pretend" (as in, let's pretend we're all swimming in the ocean) - child's choice, not mine..., played hide-and-seek (even though there's a limited number of spots I could possibly hide) - also, child's choice, not mine..., we went outside and picked tomatoes from the garden, and we baked cupcakes. 

Maddy went to town with my box of stickers. Telling a story of fishies swimming towards a present at the bottom of the ocean. What's inside the box, only she would know. On the table in the photo is Mr. Text Man. She told me his name with such attitude, as if it's it was totally unbelievable that I didn't already know what his name was when I asked. Maddy can be a little DQ (DQ = drama queen), but she also has this amazing capability of stealing everyone's hearts. She's so fun and so funny. She'll laugh with you one second, and then the next second, life somehow becomes dramatically miserable for her (simply because our attention had been diverted to her sister for just a split second). Her thing of the moment is performing "Let It Go" from Frozen, but only in whispers because she's too shy to belt it.

And then there's Mia. I seriously feel like I've missed out on the days she grew up. What happened? The last time I saw her, she was this energetic monkey who wouldn't stop. And now, she has poise. She can sit quietly to draw (something she absolutely loves to do right now) or she loves being quizzed on her additions skills. She has a caring and understanding nature especially when it comes to her sister. She explained to me that her sister is the way she is because she's still too young to understand or too young to express herself properly so that's why she's sometimes cranky. Where did the baby in Mia go? She's so grown up now.

After about twenty rounds of hide-and-seek, the redundance was driving me a little nuts. Not to mention that my body actually aches when I'm trying to contort into an unimaginable shape so I could fit and hide behind the TV. I'm way too old for that game. So, before Mia goes on to decide who should be the next "it" person for another game of hide-and-seek, I quickly shouted out, "Who wants to help me bake cupcakes??". 

I got two very enthusiastic "Meeee!!".

Siblings will be siblings. Majority of them love each other. But at that age, everything still has to be "fair". 

"But why does Mia get to do it?".

"Maddy, I think it's my turn now!". 

So, I had to count to five each time they took turns stirring the cupcake batter. To be fair. And it was quiet again. 

Maddy is still a little young to understand it all, but loves to be hands-on. She mixes the batter with such determination. Stirring isn't mixing, but flicking flour everywhere. Juggling between giving them instructions, mediating the "fairness", making sure the dough stays inside the bowl, and taking these photos, I've developed a bigger appreciation for what parents gotta do. But I loved every bit of it. 

I threw the cupcakes in the oven to bake for 10 minutes while the girls ran over to the piano to play (or really... to literally bang on the keys).

Once the cupcakes were out, it was time to frost. I knew this could either be fun or a disaster. Either way, we'd give it a shot anyway. Mia chose to frost her cupcakes yellow.

Maddy mixes the pink icing.

While Mia was meticulously putting on each cupcake confetti, and placing them with much precision...

...Maddy was eating the sprinkles by the handful. No pictures of her in action because I had to dump my camera, to grab her hand before she took another mouthful. Even though I allowed her to eat one or two of the sugar hearts, she would take another handful each time I turned away to help her sister. What a cheeky monkey! So that is why one of her cupcakes had a sprinkle pile on top (because she quickly released the handful of sprinkles when I was just about to catch her eating some more), and the rest were more minimalistic because I eventually moved the bowl away and limited her assess to the decorations. It was pretty cute.

All in all, I think the girls had a great time. 

When I dropped them off to their parents, and the girls handed their cupcakes to their mom, she commented, "Great! Next time, auntie Amie will teach you guys how to make me a turkey dinner!".

I then pictured Maddy drinking the gravy by the bowlful.