In This Issue...
So happy! I managed to stick to roughly 1500 cal every day for this diary, all the while eating yummy food. Hope you had as productive of a week as I did!
★ 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! ★
Carrot Lox on Homemade Bread
I’ve been waiting to try this vegan carrot “smoked salmon” recipe for so long! I love smoked salmon, but because it’s so expensive, I haven’t bought it since I started living on my own.
I started marinating these carrots last Friday, so they should be fully infused with flavour at this point. First impressions: not bad! I could definitely still tell it was made of carrot; it didn’t look or taste “scary real” to salmon as the website boasted, but they were definitely flavourful and delicious. I made an impromptu sandwich with my homemade bread from last week and gosh what a tasty breakfast! A little low on protein, but… next time I’ll throw some kind of lentil patty on there. The flavour is so good. I might just try the marinade recipe on some other veggies next time.
Morning Glory Muffins… for Dinner
Annika came over this evening and we baked muffins together! Something about catching up with a friend while making yummy food is so soothing and wholesome.
We started with a King Arthur Flour recipe, but made quite a few substitutions, based on what I had in the pantry. I also tweaked the ingredients to skew it a bit healthier, but the end result turned out to be super tasty! Annika packed a few to take with her. Here’s our modified morning glory muffins recipe!
Omelette and Muffin
For something so simple, omelettes are proving difficult to master. Maybe the heat is too high, but the bottom always browns before the top is cooked. And once I add fillings, the whole thing breaks when I try to flip it into the semicircle shape.
Teri Shrimp Poké Bowl from Rolltation
As usual, Wednesdays are my busiest day, so I ate out for lunch again. I tried another bowl from the Rolltation in DC—this time it’s the teri shrimp salad bowl. Happily, they actually gave me the kale base I requested this time instead of mistakenly giving me rice.
The fried batter on the shrimp was more soft and soggy than crispy, but despite that, it was one yummy lunch. The pink stuff you see on top are tempura bits, and they tasted good with literally everything in the bowl. The teriyaki mayo was equally delicious, and the kani salad—crab and cucumbers—was way better than I expected. And you can’t see any kale in this picture, but I’d say the bottom two-thirds of the bowl are all kale. It’s not my favourite vegetable to eat raw, but even it tasted great with the mayo dressing.
Microwave Vanilla Mug Cake with Carob Chips
Aaand this is why I don’t make mug cakes…
Recipe from Big Man’s World. It’s on me for underestimating just how much the batter would rise. Before microwaving, my ramekin was about 3/4 full. I was like yeah… should be fine… popped it in the microwave for a minute. It was still goopy, so in it went for another two minutes!
Ugh! I should’ve kept an eye on it in between, because when the microwave dinged, I came back to a cake that had spilled all over the turntable and was pretty overbaked. Dryer than the Sahara dessert. The carob chips I had used in place of chocolate also tasted weird. Carob chips and chocolate chips have always tasted similar to me, but the carob flavour ` stood out to me this time.
I stuffed it down anyway because I was super hungry. It was still edible, but just barely. For my microwave, I think two minutes would have been the optimal cooking time.
Smoky Carrot Lentil Harissa Soup
Despite all the carrot-y things I’ve made this week, I still have an entire bag of carrots to get through. Luckily, I found this Instant Pot soup recipe, which uses up five carrots. I used a heaping tbsp of minced garlic and forgot the bay leaf, but the recipe is quite forgiving. Also, I added about half a cup more water at the end, and the consistency turned out wonderful. (I don’t like my soups too thick—at that point you might as well make a stew, right?)
Eating this soup with some of the homemade bread I baked last week is just heavenly. And something about eating orange food in the fall just feels right!
Isa Chandra’s Carefree Curry Burgers
When I saw Isa’s recipe for re-purposing leftover curry and rice into burger patties I was overjoyed! A ziploc bag of lentil curry has been sitting in the freezer that I didn’t want to eat. Since I was on the verge of throwing it out anyway, I thought what did I have to lose by testing it out on this recipe?
Wow, it totally gave a new life to my curry. After baking, the patties were crisp and fragrant with spices—and tasted amazing on my homemade bread. I used 1-1/2 tsp of curry powder and 1/2 tsp of salt, but next time I would up this to 1 tsp.
Because my curry was pretty thick, I found that I only had to use half a cup of chickpea flour (50 g). Unlike some veggie patties, these hold their shape very well and are firm enough to reheat in the toaster oven, just like a piece of toast. Today, I ate them with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked carrot lox.
So happy I found this recipe. Now I have an easy way to get rid of curry I don’t want to eat!
Blackberry Lemon Protein Muffins
When you’re on a diet, it’s pretty important to eat enough protein. Especially since I don’t really eat meat, sometimes I have to supplement with protein powder for a low-calorie way to reach my macros.
This lemon blackberry muffin recipe was the perfect solution, because I happened to have a pint of blackberries ready to go bad in my fridge.
I didn’t expect these muffins to brown so much! They almost look like they’ve been brushed with egg wash, don’t they?
The 1/4 cup of honey (for once, I didn’t reduce it from the recipe as written since it wasn’t much to begin with) sweetens the muffins just enough, and two scoops of protein powder (~75 g) turns out to be an optimal amount. The only thing I would change next time would be to slice the blackberries into smaller pieces, or to use less next time. The muffins with two or three blackberries inside were cooked through but soggy in the middle from all the berry juice.
Today was a really weird day. I woke up feeling instantly groggy and hungry, and that feeling followed me around for the entire day. Even eating more, going out for a walk, the things that usually get me my energy back, didn’t help.
Actually, this whole week has been weird! On Monday, I noticed a pimple developing just above my lip. The next day, another one joined it. They’re beginning to die down now, but it’s still disconcerting to see two flaming red acne spots on my face when I usually have pretty clear skin.
Lunch was another sandwich made with the curry burger patties from yesterday. This time, I drizzled some ketchup and dijon mustard on top, made it even better.
Chinese Yam (Nagaimo) Chips
I went to T&T in the afternoon to pick up some snacks for Kevin, who’s visiting this weekend. I found some interesting-looking bags of “yam chips,” and since Kevin likes yams, I thought he might fancy these.
Unfortunately, I should’ve paid more attention to the packaging. The vegetable pictured on the bag is clearly not our Western definition of yam, but rather nagaimo, or Chinese yam, which has a very different taste. I went through almost an entire bag on my own, so obviously I thought it was pretty tasty. But Kevin didn’t like it at all. He said it had a “vegetable-y” taste, so disappointing.
Kevin and I have been watching the third season of The Great Canadian Baking Show this weekend. After watching the bakers make strawberry roulade for the first episode’s Technical Challenge, we got hungry for something creamy too. So I tried my hand at the same recipe used on the show!
I used 200 g frozen blueberries instead of the strawberries. The batter was a lovely pastel purple colour when I put it in the oven, but it was brown on top when I took it out. Kevin thought it was a chocolate roll! At least the inside looks nice and purple when you cut it open.
Also, I made two sponges using my 9″ × 13″ pans rather than one big roll. For both, I had to bake about 3 minutes longer than the recipe called for (~26 min each). On the second batch, a small portion of the sponge came off with the parchment paper, and looked close to underbaked, so I wouldn’t take it out of the oven any earlier.
As for the taste? Well, according to Kevin, it not only looked like chocolate, it tasted like chocolate! This was probably due to my use of hazelnut extract instead of vanilla extract. The blueberry flavour is very subtle. To be honest, all you taste is the sugar, the hazelnut, and cream (and I even cut down the sugar from 3/4 to 2/3 in the cake, and from 2/3 to 1/2 in the buttercream).
The buttercream is so rich that I thought I could’ve put less of it in, and I didn’t even end up using all of it. If you look at the photo on the recipe website, there is definitely more cream than cake in those rolls, but that’s too much, imo. I think you can safely halve the amount of buttercream and still have enough to spread around. I’m more of a cake person than an icing person, anyway.
Overall, a wonderful success. Kevin really liked it, too, and he’s a bit picky when it comes to sweets. I’m happy I was able to turn out something he enjoys eating, unlike the tiramisu failure from last week.
Basic Egg Fried Rice
Kevin loves fried rice. Although I have made acceptable fried rice in the past, it’s clear that it hasn’t reached restaurant-level deliciousness yet. According to him, this dish should only require oil, rice, eggs, and scallions to taste good. I set out to find instructions for the most simple fried rice there is. The recipe comes from the Woks of Life, one of my favourite Asian food blogs, and although there are a few more ingredients (paprika, turmeric, and salt), it is indeed very simple and looks close to the restaurant version.
After making the recipe according to instructions, I had Kevin taste test. He said it was good, but missing something… maybe more oil? Good thing I hadn’t taken it out of the skillet yet. I added another generous splash of oil, and he tasted again. The smell was so good at this point. And yep! Seems like the key ingredient is plain old cooking oil. In the end, I added what I estimate to be about 5 tbsp of oil. The rice was basically glistening. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since we all know restaurants overdo it on the fat to make everything that much tastier. I just wish there was a healthier solution, LOL. Like adding some veggies into the mix. Kevin seems to be against that idea, though.
Instant Pot Braised Pork Belly
To serve with the rice, I made another Woks of Life recipe. I followed the steps exactly (except I used regular Chinese cooking wine instead of the shaoxing wine).
This dish was so incredibly easy (basically a dump and go recipe) and it turned out freaking AMAZING. Kevin hugged me after eating it!! This is my first time cooking pork belly successfully, and it has raised my confidence for sure. I plan on making the traditional hong shao rou next time to expand my skills.
The best part about this recipe is, you can freeze the master stock and keep it for the next time you wanna use it. Which I definitely will, because I foresee more pork belly in the future whenever I need to make Kevin an easy guaranteed-to-please dinner.