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My Food Diary: Easy Meals for Exam Season

Off to Toronto this weekend to celebrate our anniversary! Other than that, here are some fast easy meal ideas for finals season. Good luck on exams, everyone!

Off to Toronto this weekend to celebrate our anniversary! Other than that, here are some fast easy meals ideas for finals season. Good luck on exams, everyone!

My weekly Food Diaries are a way of tracking what I cook, buy, and eat every day. They provide insight into my eating preferences, allow me to analyze patterns in my spending, and help improve my cooking. And I always share my recipes!

Monday

Scalloped Potatoes

easy meals option: betty crocker's cheesy scalloped potatoes

Breakfast today was a tray of scalloped potatoes made from a Betty Crocker mix, which I was given a while ago but kept forgetting to bake. I was feeling lazy this morning, but also very hungry, so I was looking around for fast easy meals. It was pretty lucky I remembered this box because it turned out it had expired not too long ago.

Betty pulled through! I ended up eating the whole tray because it was so good. Although the mixture was very liquidy when it went into the oven, it thickened up after baking. I guess the dehydrated potato slices absorb a lot of moisture. The only nitpick I have is wishing the potatoes to be a bit softer. But that’s a personal preference.

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal carrot cookies

Believe it or not, I’m still, still making my way through the horde of carrots in the fridge. I need a break from savoury carrots after the last two weeks, so we’re starting off this week with something sweet.

These cookies are made with carrot and oatmeal, which are both tasty things on their own. However, when smushed together…

Sadly, this recipe is less than the sum of its parts. Maybe with some cream cheese icing, it’ll taste better, like carrot cake. In fact, I only baked half of the batter today and the rest I’ve frozen in that little ziploc better. I plan on adding it into a carrot cake recipe.

Garlic Bread

garlic bread from uw food services

Don’t @ me okaaaay I know I’m not exactly eating healthy today.

I stopped by NRB on my way back from my evening class and was tempted into trying some of their garlic bread. I watched them as they put it into the oven, and was disappointed to see that it was only pre-packaged frozen bread. That’s fine, I like the frozen garlic bread from Costco.

However, this brand of mass-produced garlic bread was definitely a disappointment. It was lacking all but the faintest trace of garlic. I sprinkled on some Italian seasoning from the pizza station, but the herbs were tasteless. 😔

Wednesday

Crispy Noodles from Hakka Wok

crispy fried noodles from hakka wok in davis centre (uw food services)

I have a presentation due today in one of my tutorials, so ofc had to do a little stress eating first. Today’s stress meal of crispy fried noodles with tofu is brought to you by Hakka Wok in the Davis Centre food court.

This is the second time I’ve bought food from Hakka Wok, and I can now totally understand why there are so many more people at Rolltation just a few steps away than at this place. The noodles are super bland, and not even crispy—just hard on the outside and chewy on the inside—making them hard to eat. The stir fry sauce is sickly sweet and has no depth of flavour beyond that. The breaded tofu skin is soggy, like it was reheated in the microwave. The veggies were the only acceptable part of the meal since they were just blanched in water, but they were partly ruined by the sauce.

Hot & Sour Soup in the Instant Pot

instant pot vegan hot and sour soup

I’ve been thinking about hot and sour soup for a long time, ever since Kevin brought it up in the summer.

Finally made the trip to T&T to buy some bamboo shoots, and now I had all the ingredients I needed for the recipe I wanted to use! Well, I was missing spinach, but since I had some cabbage left in the fridge, I used that instead, adding it with all the other ingredients at the beginning. I used dried shiitakes instead of fresh. And I skipped the eggs since I wasn’t really feeling eggs.

It was delicious! For such an easy recipe, it tasted just like what I expect hot and sour soup to be. It works for meal prep too, in fact, the flavours get even better after sitting in the fridge. The only thing that fucked it up slightly was the cabbage, which turned a little bitter. I’ll stick with spinach next time.

Cheese Pizza and Potato Wedges from Buddy’s Pizza

cheese pizza and potato wedges from buddy's pizza waterloo

Bittersweet dinner tonight at our last uWAFFLE club meeting for the fall semester! I’m really impressed with how Jeffin and Sabrina have run the club this term. They’re probably the most chill and organized club presidents I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with 😆

Anyway, since pizza is kinda the tradition, our last meal together is from Buddy’s Pizza. There were pizza, potato wedges, and wings. Something happened with the order and it was suuuuper delayed, so the food was kinda cold by the time it got to us. As a result it’s probably not a fair assessment, but I really wasn’t impressed by the pizza.

Maids of Honour

I am suuuuper behind on this season’s Great British Bake Along, but finally I got bake #4 (Maids of Honour) over with! Not one of my favourites, and a little time-consuming for what you get, but she’s done.

You can read more about it at my Maids of Honour technical challenge post.

Thursday

Slice ‘n’ Bake Shortbread Cookies

Very pleased with how these vegan cookies turned out. I tried three flavours: the dark brown ones are chocolate, the red-and-pink swirls are maple and chocolate, and the green swirls are peppermint!

This is such an easy recipe with just 3-ingredients, fun to bake and fun to slice. The swirls come out lovely too!

Creamy Vegan Ramen at Jinya

Awkward fact: despite having worked at Jinya for a month, I’ve never before eaten ramen there. Kevin and I were wracking our brains for where we wanted to eat, and since I wanted to try a new ramen spot, we figured it was about time for me to try Jinya. Kevin said that Santouka was better, but I wanted to see for myself.

One thing that Jinya has over Santouka is a wider range of choices. For example, they have two vegetarian options, an array of appetizers and snacks, and even… kale noodles?! I might go back to try those. This time, I ordered the Creamy Vegan Ramen. I’ve heard good things about this dish, from vegans and non-vegans alike. My verdict, however? I’ll agree with my boyfriend. Santouka is better.

The Butter Baker

After ramen, we stopped by this cute little bakery for some dessert! I was referred here by a friend who said I HAD to try the croissants. Unfortunately, they were closing up by the time we got there, and the croissants were all sold out. So we consoled ourselves with a slice of tiramisu (Kevin) and gâteau basque (me).

Both were delicious! I can’t say much about the tiramisu because it’s not my favourite pastry to begin with, and I’m not good at telling good tiramisu apart from great. But the gâteau basque was something new for me (which I picked because of the name—are you even surprised?). The filling was a thick, dense custard which is just the kind of thing I like. The crust was sweet and crumbly, kinda like the topping on conchas or melonpan.

I can’t wait to go back and try the croissants!

Friday

Cheese from the St. Lawrence Market

six varieties of artisan cheeses from olympic cheese toronto

While Kevin was at work today, I had time to do a bit of grocery shopping. I stopped by St. Lawrence Market and was sucked in by one of the cheese shops. Everything looked so good! There was cheese in colours and patterns I’d never seen before.

I couldn’t resist picking up a smattering of cheeses to try. The wasabi gouda in particular called out to me. You can read my review of all six cheeses I bought here!

Vegan English Muffins

homemade vegan english muffins

Today, I made vegan English muffins! I used this recipe but left out the baking soda, since we don’t have any in the Toronto apartment right now. I cut out the round shapes with a Solo Cup. 😂

I’ll be using them to make breakfast sandwiches for Kevin later this week.

The dough worked out really well, even without baking soda to help it along. These babies were soft and fluffy coming hot off the skillet, but once they cooled down they sank and got a little denser, like an English muffin should be. My only issue is they seem to be a little thin. Once sliced, the halves are very flat. Next time I’ll leave the dough a little thicker before cutting out the muffins.

Eataly Toronto

"italy is eataly" toronto at bloor and yonge

FINALLY! This Italian gourmet grocery chain is open in Toronto! Me and Kevin haven’t been this excited about a store opening since T&T came to Waterloo.

As you guys know, I’ve been a long-time Eataly fan ever since I visited them on my first trip to Italy. And during our recent vacation, I converted Kevin too. However, the Toronto location didn’t live up to the hype. Anyway, I have a lot to say about this, so look out for my review of it soon!

S’mores Cookies

s'mores cookies without leavening agent (no baking soda or powder)

All I can say is these cookies were a big failure. Kevin wanted something sweet to snack on while we watched TV, but I was out of baking soda and baking powder.

I did see some recipes out there for cookies without baking soda / powder, so I gave this one a try. I combined it with a recipe for s’mores cookies, since we had some cookies ‘n’ creme chips to use up.

End result: the cookies never darkened beyond a yellowish colour, the marshmallows melted into sugar syrup, and the cookies tasted super doughy. Aargh!! I looked at the s’mores cookie recipe again and it looks like you have to use vegan marshmallows for them to stay intact. Very sad, but now I know for next time!

Saturday

Dim Sum at Rol San

Another weekend, another dim sum restaurant… This is the third place we’ve tried, after Dim Sum King and Rosewood. We had to wait for about half an hour, but once we got seated the food came up very fast. This is the cheapest restaurant out of the three we’ve been to so far, just $50 for both of us including tax and tip. Fun fact: apparently Serge Ibaka is a regular here!

Dinner at Don Alfonso 1890

Anniversary dinner tonight!! Technically, our anniversary happened two weeks ago, but I was really under the weather that weekend, so we’ve postponed it until now.

I can’t believe that I’ve been with my bebe for two years now. Sometimes it feels like a long time and other times it feels like no time has passed at all!

As usual, look out for my restaurant review coming in the new few days.

Sunday

Homemade Breakfast Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

healthy homemade breakfast sandwiches

This is one of the best easy meals to prep because you can let your oven do all the work. Get the recipe here.

Yep, both the bacon and eggs in this recipe are cooked in the oven. If you know how to butter toast and whisk eggs, you’ll be able to meal prep your own breakfast sandwiches in no time.

Tantanmen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Last meal before I leave Toronto again! I tried something new for once at Santouka today. Tantanmen is the Japanese spinoff of Chinese dandanmian. It’s a spicy noodle dish mainly defined by its minced pork and diced pickled veggies. I’m used to eating a dry version of tantanmen, but here it’s served in a broth. Still very delicious! But overall I prefer the ramen options at Santouka (the shio, shoyu, and miso noodles).

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