12.23.2016

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies



All I want for Christmas is…Nick Carter. Ok fine, something more realistic? I’ll settle for some gooey chocolate peppermint crunch cookies then. It’s Christmas Eve eve, so naturally I’ve been baking up quite a storm. Chocolate and peppermint go hand in hand during the holidays, kind of like how Nick and I go hand in hand but that’s another story. I whipped up the ultimate chocolate peppermint cookies, and cannot stop stuffing my face with them. Soft and chewy, each bite is filled with the richness of dark chocolate intertwined with the crunchiness of peppermint pieces, and candy candy pieces. These are the perfect holiday cookies to snuggle up with on Christmas morning, with a cup of coffee, tea, or even some hot chocolate. Christmas coziness.





Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies (makes 3 dozen)

Slightly modified from this recipe here.

Ingredients:

-       2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
-       1 tsp baking soda
-       ½ tsp sea salt
-       ¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa
-       1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
-       2 cups coconut sugar
-       2 large eggs, at room temperature
-       1 tsp vanilla extract
-       ½ tsp peppermint extract
-       1 cup dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
-       1 cup crushed Ghirardelli peppermint bark
-       ½ cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. Preheat the over to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa together. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat together. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until just combined. 
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture in and beat until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips and peppermint bark pieces. 
  5. Place the crushed candy canes in a small bowl. If you don't have crushed candy canes, place 6 or 7 candy canes on a cutting board, wrap them in plastic wrap, and bang on them using a rolling pin until crushed.
  6. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop a large tablespoon size dough and roll into a ball. Roll the dough in the crushed candy canes until lightly coated and place the cookies on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (do not over bake), then remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas!


12.09.2016

Velvet Crush




I never thought I’d be a fan of velvet. Since last wearing it in the 90s in probably some ugly form of a dress that my mother forced upon me, I was glad when the trend faded away and I never had to lay eyes on it again. That is, until now. Velvet has made a huge comeback this season, and this time around, I am surprisingly all over it. The hideous, granny like velvet that I remember has been replaced by a more elegant, stylish version and I just can’t get enough. This Zara dress is my first foray into velvet again and is the perfect crushed velvet attire. The dark pink colour is so beautifully multifaceted and makes for a great holiday look. Unfortunately, this colour is no longer available; however, there is a lovely mustard version that's still available. Oh velvet, I am simply crushing on you and I apologize for all my years of disdain. You now have a place in my heart.

Dress: Zara | Booties: Nine West Canada


11.28.2016

A Bonne Maman Holiday Dinner



Food brings everyone together, especially during the holidays. One of the best parts of the season is spending time with loved ones and stuffing your face to your heart’s content. But let’s be real, I pretty much do that at every meal. I had the pleasure of attending my first holiday party of the season at Irene Matys of The Spicy Olive’s beautiful home, where she prepared an amazing holiday feast for myself and 6 other foodie friends.


Irene and I had been following each other on Instagram for a long while and as a huge admirer of her delicious recipes and food, I was thrilled to be able to take our Insta-friendship from online to offline and taste her cooking for myself. And I wasn’t disappointed. Irene effortlessly whipped up an incredible meal, incorporating four different Bonne Maman jams: Cherry, Blueberry, Orange Marmalade, and Caramel. For decades, Bonne Maman has been creating their special preserves in France, with all natural ingredients and no artificial colours, additives, or preserves. Upon first bite, I instantly fell in love with their jams and practically licked spoonfuls of them straight from the jar. No shame.


Irene creatively used a different Bonne Maman jam into each dish, highlighting the jam’s flavour profile and bringing them to the forefront. While getting to know one another, we munched on a local cheese board with spiced nuts, dried fruit, and a lovely cherry jam port and herb preserve. We then feasted on a winter salad with pears, cranberries, pecans, and goat feta tossed in a delicious blueberry jam balsamic vinaigrette. And what’s a holiday dinner without some turkey? Irene crafted a turkey roulade with an orange mandarin jam sauce, served with a crispy shallot potato mash and herbed carrots. Not your traditional turkey with gravy, Irene’s version was sweeter with the burst of orange marmalade sauce.




The dinner ended on a sweet note, and my favourite component of any meal -– dessert. We indulged in a vanilla bean ricotta ice cream, with a warm sweet wine and raisin caramel spread sauce, and topped with a cherry jam macaron. This was probably my favourite dish and I could’ve easily had seconds (or thirds). The dulce de leche jam was so good, I scooped more spoonfuls of it into my dessert because there’s no such thing as too much dulce de leche right?



I left the dinner that night with my stomach full, and my heart inspired by the wonderful people I had met, especially the loveliest host and The Spicy Olive herself. For delicious recipes and to see more photos from that night, check out Irene's site here.

11.21.2016

Italpasta Mac & Cheese



Mac and cheese is one of those comfort foods that I constantly crave, especially during the colder months. Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Kraft dinner. It always looked and tasted artificial to me and just wasn’t all that appealing. But the Italpasta mac and cheese has made me reconsider boxed pasta. Made with 100% wheat and real cheddar cheese, and no preservatives, there’s nothing artificial about this mac and cheese.

Quick and super easy to make, I dressed up this version by adding fried prosciutto bits, chives, and toasted bread crumbs on top because I'm fancy like that. When I crave pasta but don’t feel like making anything from scratch, this mac and cheese satisfies my hunger in a pinch.

And you’re in luck! Italpasta is giving away a prize pack that includes two of their mac and cheese packages, socks, a cozy blanket, and a cheese plush. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post below, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and follow Italpasta on Instagram and Twitter. Each option are separate entries. The giveaway ends in a week and the winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!






a Rafflecopter giveaway

10.10.2016

Roasted Pumpkin Soup



When the temperature drops, there’s nothing I love more than curling up with a soothing hot bowl of soup. And what better soup to heal your soul during fall than a pumpkin one? I make this roasted pumpkin soup on rotation throughout the colder months and it’s rich, velvety, and simply luxurious. The coconut milk gives it a nice, silky texture and is pure coziness in a bowl.

Last week, I attended a dinner hosted by World Vision Canada to celebrate food in support of their #hungerfree campaign. With 795 million people chronically under-nourished around the world, the goal of this movement is to unite Canadians around the idea that everyone deserves access to a sustainable supply of healthy and nutritious food.

As today is Thanksgiving for all my fellow Canadians, I thought I’d share my Meaningful Meal with you all and inspire you to create your own Meaningful Meal. With World Food Day approaching on October 16th, I encourage everyone to support the #hungerfree movement by hosting your own Meaningful Meal, donating to World Vision, and then sharing your Meaningful Meal on social media with the hashtag #hungerfree.

For more information and to get started, check out www.hungerfree.ca.






Roasted Pumpkin Soup (serves 6):

Slightly modified from this recipe here.

Ingredients:
  • 4-4 ½ pounds pumpkin (you can use any type of pumpkin or squash)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (from a 3-inch long piece)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp coconut Thai seasoning (from Bulk Barn)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat or light)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a heavy, sharp knife or cleaver, cut the pumpkin into quarters and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour.
  2. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. When cooled, peel the skin from the flesh and chop the pumpkin into bite-sized chunks (the smaller the better).
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and fry for another few minutes. Add the curry powder and coconut Thai seasoning and fry for another minute.
  4. Add the pumpkin chunks and salt, and fry everything together for about 5 minutes, stirring to ensure everything is incorporated well.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or pour the soup in batches into a blender. Be sure to hold the top down with a towel and blend carefully. Add more salt if needed.
  7. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro or parsley. 

Let’s celebrate food and help create a #hungerfree world. Happy Thanksgiving!


9.30.2016

Flip A Coin Tapas & Bar



Coming from a Chinese background, I can be rather picky when it comes to Asian cuisine. Don’t even get me started on Mandarin, Manchu Wok, or Spoon and Fork. If you like any of those places we cannot be friends. Many Asian fusion restaurants have popped up over recent years, but none have really impressed me. They seemed a little gimmicky and lacked flavour and authenticity.

Enter Flip A Coin, a new Asian tapas restaurant and bar, the first of its kind in Port Credit, Mississauga. Dark and beautifully moody, the d├ęcor evokes a modern Asian flair, from the lovely paintings on the wall, to the oil-paper umbrellas that hang from the ceiling, with accents of red throughout the restaurant.




Their boldness is also reflected in the tapas, in an array of tantalizing, authentic flavours with a modern twist. I hungrily got a taste of their menu before their grand opening last Saturday and everything was fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented. One of my favourite dishes is their Kick-Ass Poutine, with sweet potato fries, eggplant, pulled pork, house gravy, and cheese curds. Not your average poutine, this one has an Asian spin and is definitely kick-ass.

Other standout dishes include the Umami Fried Rice with kimchi, brown rice, egg, and veggies, Seared Duck with smoked duck breast, edamame, grilled mushrooms, and a chocolate berry sauce on a Chinese bun, and finger lickin' Pork Ribs. The bold medley of flavours in all their dishes work perfectly together and every bite was simply delectable. This is real Asian fusion as its finest.




Their Asian inspired cocktails are also not to be missed, and with names like Yogurt Tokyo, Tiger on the Beach, and Mr. and Mrs. Margarita, you’d wish it was cocktail hour all day. If you’re in the Mississauga area, or are simply craving good Asian food with a twist, definitely check out Flip A Coin!




9.09.2016

Just Peachy



With summer gradually winding down (insert crying face emoji here), I’m making the most of these last few weeks of warm weather, patio hangs, and numerous ice cream trips. This peachy dress is my ode to summer with its soft, pastel palette. At first glance it may seem like a simple dress, but it’s the back details with bow accents on the straps that makes you go ooh. I may need to start walking backwards in this dress so everyone can see how pretty the back is.

If you’ve noticed that my lashes look more voluminous, it’s because I recently got lash extensions done for my best friend’s wedding a few weeks back. I have typical Asian lashes that are stick straight and absolutely refuse to stay curled. I swear its life mission is to piss me off. But thanks to Divine Lashes, I was able to have luscious lashes that stayed curled and were picture perfect for the wedding. Check them out if you’re ever thinking of getting lash extensions done!


Dress: Club Monaco | Shoes: Guess (similiar here) | Choker: Aldo


8.11.2016

Tickled Pink



When your outfit matches a wall, you simply must pose for a photo in front of it. Although the location for this photo shoot wasn’t exactly planned, I think it worked out rather perfectly. Anything pink always makes me feel girly, and when you add in a lot of ruffles, it just makes it that much sweeter. A pair of white scalloped shorts adds to the flirty theme and has quickly become one of my summer staples. Overall, I guess you could say that I was tickled pink :)



Top: French Connection (similar-ish here) | Shorts: Club Monaco (on sale) | Shoes: Zara (similar here)

Photographed by: Dine and Fash


8.08.2016

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies




Regular chocolate chip cookies can be a bit of a bore to me. I like mine to have more than just chocolate, an added punch that takes it to another level. One of the best chocolate chip cookies in the city has to be from Maman Toronto and I love it so much that I was inspired to create my own version. Thick and crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside -- this chocolate chip cookie is everything you want it to be and more. Loaded with lots of melted dark chocolate and a crunchy blend of macadamia nuts and walnuts, I can’t help but sigh with each scrumptious bite. Now this is a chocolate chip cookie I can get excited about.






Thick & Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macadamia & Walnuts

Slightly modified from this recipe here.

Serves: 12 giant cookies

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. On a large baking sheet, place parchment paper on and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it comes together in one lump, about 1 minute.
  4.  Add the coconut sugar and beat for another 1-2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved into the butter.
  5. Lower the speed to medium-low and mix in the eggs and vanilla until the batter is lumpy. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating until a little flour remains.
  6. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Shape the dough into a ball, but do not roll it. Place them on the baking sheet, placing each about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 12 hours before baking.
  8. Preheat over to 375F. Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then proceed to stuff your face immediately.


6.15.2016

Falling Off-The-Shoulder




One of the biggest trends I’m obsessed with this season has to be anything off-the-shoulder. I remember wearing this trend as an teen back in the 90s (God, I feel old) and I am so glad it’s made a comeback. Showing off any body part is always appealing, but there’s something about bare shoulder that’s super feminine yet subtly sexy. This crisp top also keeps it playful with big, frilly sleeves. But not too big that I feel like I can flap my arms and fly away. Paired with some distressed jeans and mint pumps, this off-the-shoulder look is the perfect spring-to-summer essential. 




Top: Zara | Jeans: Rag & Bone | Shoes: Nine West (similar here)| Bag: from Hong Kong

Photography by Aminaz Karim (@loveoverlenses).