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.)