Seafood Squash Pasta

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It’s autumn! The season of scarves, beautiful leaves, and harvest! I thought a recipe that incorporates some fall ingredients is appropriate right about now. I was grocery shopping and came across these awesome squashes (that sounds pretty funny when you say it out loud) on sale. Spaghetti squash, butternut squash…they look so pretty piled together! I picked a small acorn squash just because it looked adorable.

Fun fact: acorn squash is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidant compounds. A diet with a high intake of the nutrients provided by acorn squash may decrease the risk of a number of serious medical conditions.

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Getting chopped!

I was very excited going into creating this pasta dish. I had the idea in my head and it turned out as well as I expected! The union of seafood, squash, cheese and coconut flavors was delicious. It makes for a great hearty dinner and I hope you try it out!

As a fair warning, this dish is relatively more laborious than the recipes that I normally share, mostly because cooking the squash takes quite awhile. However, if you are up to a challenge, you shall be rewarded! With yumminess.

Ingredients: (for baking the squash)

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients: (for the dish in general):

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup of seafood mix. (I happened to have shrimps, scallops and smoked salmon in my freezer but you can easily buy a bag of frozen seafood mix. Or even better, use fresh!)
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 ¼ inch (3 cm) piece of ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Some of the ingredients

Directions:

The first thing you want to do is to cook the squash. Roasting it in the oven is the best way to go. I looked around online for an easy recipe and ended up using this one from Chow. It is super straight forward. However, the one tip that I will add is that before putting on the seasoning, score the insides of the acorn squash halves with a knife, in a crisscross pattern. This way, the squash will cook faster. The whole process will take about an hour and a half (cooking time plus cooling time). It just takes patience.

While your squash is cooking, get your prep work done!

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Drain pasta and let it cool.
  3. Before cooking your seafood, first dice them in to bite size pieces if they are too big.
  4. Heat a pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.
  6. Place your seafood pieces in the pan in an uncrowded layer.
  7. Depending on what seafood you have, cooking time will be different. The general guideline is to let one side sear undisturbed until it is browned and crisp, turn it around and sear the other side the same way. Shrimps and scallops should take around 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Place the cooked seafood in a plate on stand by.

When your squash is finally cooked,

  1. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes
  2. Scoop the flesh of the squash out of its skin and dice it into chunks, about 1cm cubes.

Now all the ingredients are ready! The rest will be easy peasy.

  1. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pan over high heat.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and tomato. Stir and cook until they are fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  3. Turn the heat to medium-high and pour in the coconut milk.
  4. Add in the squash chunks, seafood and pasta, let them baste in the coconut milk.
  5. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Last, add in shredded parmesan cheese and chopped coriander leaves for garnish.
  8. Serve immediately.

Not going to lie, by the time I finished making this dish, I was ravenous! BUT, that made the very first bite taste just even better. Cheesy, coconutty, squashy, seafoody…Okay, some of those weren’t words, but you get what I’m trying to say. So much flavor! If you are up for an adventure, give this recipe a go. Just as a last note, you don’t have to use acorn squash for this recipe. Feel free to use other types of squash or pumpkin! Explore, eat, discover!

Oh-So-Yum Overnight Oats

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I LOVE breakfast. I need a good meal in the morning to start my day off right. Want to see me cranky? Deny me breakfast. Overnight Oats is one of my favorite things to eat in the AM. The idea is by no means new. If you search for “overnight oats” online, tons of recipes will pop up. Today, I will share some of my creations.

The base of this recipe is equal parts oats, yogurt and milk mixed together. Many people (myself included), also like to add chia seeds to the base. If you have never met Mr. Chia seeds, there are many reasons to make your acquaintance. It is a wonderful source of healthy omega-3 fats, fiber and protein. Ch-ch-ch-chia! Just had to do that…Ignore the dorkiness…

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Other than that, there are endless possibilities in terms of what you can put in to enhance the oat. Fruits, nuts, seeds, different types of milk, yogurts and sweeteners…I adore experimenting and trying out that first bite (It’s usually delicious. Just saying).

Ingredients (Base):

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk (could be soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt/flavoued yogurt if you like
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Ingredients (Some enhancer suggestions):

  • Fresh/dried fruits: blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, bananas, peaches, cranberries
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashew, peanuts, almonds
  • Sweeteners: peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, jam, vanilla extract
  • Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Spices: cinnamon, pumpkin spice

Directions:

  1. Mix the base ingredients (with any sweeteners and spices) together in a mason jar, soup mug, or any vessel with a lid.
  2. Add in your choice of toppings (fruits and nuts). There are also people who prefer to add these in the morning instead.
  3. Place in fridge overnight.
  4. Wake up and enjoy!

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Depending on the ingredients you use, I find that the overnight oats I make usually keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days. So I tend to make a couple mugs, enough for 2-3 breakfasts! Such a time saver!

Here are some ideas for you!

Energy Booster – Peanut Butter Banana

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Ingredients:

  • 1 table spoon smooth peanut butter
  • 1 chopped banana
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 handful blueberries (optional)

Peanut butter and banana. Such a classic. In the winter, after taking this one out of the fridge, I like to heat it up in the microwave for a minute, until the banana is mushy and the peanut butter has melted. (In this case, I wait until after heating the oat to add the walnuts. I like to maintain the crunchiness of nuts) Honestly, it taste heavenly.

Autumn Morning – Peach & Grape Jam

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Ingredients:

  • 1 half diced peach
  • 1 tablespoon grape jam
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon

This one just came out of an experiment recently. I wanted to play with some fall flavors. I used to not like cinnamon, but for some reason, I am so into it this year! If you like, you can also try adding in some pumpkin spice. Simply mix the spices with the base and top with jam and chopped peach chunks. Enjoy with a coffee and a cozy knit sweater. So autumn…

Summer Memory – Papaya & Coconuts

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  • 1/3 cup diced papaya
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (optional)

I think not everyone likes the pungent smell of papaya…but I love it! But then again I like the smell of durians too (fun/weird fact about me). They just remind me of summer and make me feel like being somewhere tropical. This oat recipe is a perfect blast to summer vibe for me. You can replace regular milk with coconut milk to go all out for that tropical flavor. Top with the fruits and honey and you are all set. Suggestion: eat while playing you favorite summer tune. Now, can you hear the ocean? ~You and me, standing on the sunnnn~

Alternatively, if you are in a rush in the morning, you can always take this awesome breakfast to go. That’s the beauty of overnight oats. Not only is it nutritious, fun to make, pretty to look at, delicious, it is also portable! What more do you want I ask you?!

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Here’s a picture of my hand pretending to work at home. When really, I’m probably on Pinterest. But you know, I bet tons of people out there take their breakfast to work O:-)

Presto Pesto Pasta Salad

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I thought I better go ahead and share this summery recipe before summer is officially over. I don’t care what you guys say, it’s not over until all the leaves fall! Summer…please don’t leave me. Anyways, this salad is super easy to make. I got the idea from Gimme Some Oven. (See the original post here) My version is more or less the same, with some minor differences. I’ve made this salad two times so far. Once for a girl’s night in dinner and once for my 10 years old little brother (a very picky eater who usually only likes cheese and potatoes), and both times it was a win!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat pasta
  • 1 red pepper (The original called for roasted red pepper. I didn’t have any so I used fresh ones. Just as yummy!)
  • 3/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 handfuls baby arugula

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*Side story about this photo: I got stuck outside of my house after grocery shopping because I forgot my keys, so I had a photo-shoot in the backyard to pass time. Oh the things I do for food. (Mozzarella missing in the shot)

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water for about 20-30 seconds until no longer hot.
  3. Toss pasta with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Now I shall continue to eat my yummy salad and pretend it is still summer…

*Credits to Gimme Some Oven for this awesome 5 ingredients recipe.

Prosciutto Pear Panini

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More correctly, this should be called the “Prosciutto Pear Parmesan Pesto Panini”. Although that would have been epic, I decided to keep the name simple in the end. As I’ve mentioned on my Instagram (Ahem follow me @viola.wang), this has got to be the most delicious sandwich that I’ve everrr made. The sweetness of pear really complements the saltiness of the prosciutto, and the creamy pesto just really hits it home. I decided to put some pear in my sandwich as an experiment as pears are in season, and oh man…best decision!

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-ounce loaf ciabatta, halved horizontally
  • 2 pieces of prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 pieces of leafy green. (I used spinach, but baby arugula would also be lovely)
  • 3/4 slices of Bartlett pear
  • 3/4 slices of tomato
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (optional. I put some in there just for kicks and it turned out really good)
  • 2 tablespoon pesto
  • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (Mozzarella would work well too)
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste (optional)

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*The pear and tomato I used were proudly home grown. #Fresh

Directions

  1. Spread one cut side of ciabatta with 2 tablespoons of pesto and the other with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Layer one side of ciabatta with your leafy green, prosciutto, pear slices, tomato slices, and blueberries. Top it off with cheese.
  3. Season with black pepper if desired. Top with remaining bread.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and place the sandwich in the pan.
  6. Press down firmly on the sandwich and hold. I did this just with my spatula and my deezed arm strength but you could also weight the sandwich down with anything clean and heavy. (If you have a sandwich press, great! Your life is much simpler).
  7. Grill 2 to 3 minutes on first side, turn, weight down, and continue cooking until sandwich is golden and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Eat immediately.

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If I could only show you how good this smells and taste right now. Hmm…

Peanut Butter & Siracha Tofu

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My friend and I originally discovered the recipe in the Buzzfeed post, “30 Delicious Vegan Meals You Can Make Under 30 Minutes”. We tried it and in my friend Vita’s words, the taste “is to dieee for!” (Thank you Buzzfeed!) I have made some modifications to the original version, namely adding in some veggies for extra flavor and a more colorful presentation. In addition to being vegan, this dish is gluten-free. Try it out for the next Meatless Monday!

Ingredients:

  • 14-16 oz. firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoon canola/olive oil (I use these two oils the most often as they are arguably healthier among different types of cooking oils)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large ginger root, sliced
  • 1 half red bell pepper
  • 1 half green bell pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoon chopped green onions (for garnish)

 

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is fine)
  • 2 tablespoon smooth natural peanut butter (the ones with low sugar are best)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tablespoon Siracha Sauce (more or less to taste)

*The original version called for vinegar, but I found that I didn’t like the sour taste so much for this dish, so I left it out.

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Directions

  1. Drain the tofu and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. Cut the tofu into strips. You want the strips to be relatively thick so the tofu doesn’t crumble when you try to flip it.
  3. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Slice the garlic, ginger and green onions.
  5. Slice the red and green bell peppers into strips.
  6. Heat the wok/pan over high heat until it’s hot. 
  7. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat about 30 seconds more. 
  8. Add the chopped bell pepper and stir. When the pieces have softened, remove and set them aside.
  9. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok
  10. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until they are fragrant (about 30 seconds); then remove and discard. 
  11. Add tofu pieces, lower heat to medium high and cook until the tofu is nicely browned on both sides (about 7-8 minutes).
  12. When the tofu pieces are browned, add the sauce, turn heat to low. Cook for a minute, or just until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the tofu. 
  13. Add your bell pepper back into the wok and let it be coated in the sauce along with the tofu.
  14. Turn off the heat and remove the wok from the stove.
  15. Plate the dish, pour sauce over and garnish with green onion slices.

 

Having this fresh out of the wok with some rice = heaven…

 

*Credits to Kalyn’s Kitchen for the wonderful recipe.

Sesame Soba Noodles

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Growing up, my mom often made noodles for dinner on days that she did not have a lot of time to cook. I am not complaining because I loved her noodles. She always put a lot of different ingredients and spices into the base, which makes the noodles oh so flavourful! After years, I have finally mastered my mom’s way of making noodles and realized that it is not as complicated as I once thought. Don’t tell her this but…I think I have even made it better…

Ingredients:

  • 100 g soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoon minced meat sauce (optional)
  • 1 handful leafy vegetables (I used arugula, but you can use bak choy, spinach, etc)

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The version that I had growing up were actually made with regular wheat noodles. However, I’ve made the switch to Soba a couple years ago. Soba is made with buckwheat and has more of a nutty flavor. It is a great option if you follow a gluten-free and/or a calorie-conscious diet.

Another thing worth mentioning is the minced meat sauce. The one I use is homemade. Again it is mom’s wonderful recipe, which I will share another time. You can also use other meat/non-meat. I.e. left over chicken, eggplant, tofu…the options are endless!

Directions:

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  2. Put all other ingredients and spices into a bowl.
  3. Drain the noodles and place in the bowl.
  4. Mix well.

Ya I’m not kidding you…four steps to make this. I supposed getting all the ingredients is the most difficult part. I know from my student days that I often found it frustrating that I am just missing one ingredient for a certain recipe. In this case, I think that all of the ingredients listed are worthy investments. I for one use sesame oil quite often. If you really don’t want to buy an ingredient, get creative and find a replacement! Ie. Hot sauce/Siracha if you don’t have chili flakes.

Ok enough talking. My noodles are getting cold! Hope you try this out and let me know how it goes.

Mama’s Chinese BBQ Ribs

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Since graduating from McGill, I have moved back to my parents’ house in Toronto (yep new grads I hear ya). One of the best things about living at home is my mom’s kitchen. When I left for university, I was still a kid who couldn’t even boil an egg. BUT now that I’m back and grown, I have realized that mom’s kitchen is a place where magic can happen. Every time that I discover in a cupboard a fancy ingredient that I was always too cheap to buy during my student life, I get all giddy and excited.

This dinner for the carnivores was a fun collaboration between mama and I. Cooking together was a great bonding experience for us. This ribs recipe is slightly different from most of the BBQ ribs recipe that you would find online because it has more of an asian flavour. This dish requires slightly more ingredients and time to make than the dishes that I typically share, but the final product is juicy, meaty, delish and so worth it I promise!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2-3 lb) rack of ribs 
    1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic/garlic powder
  • 1/4 chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoon black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Lee Kum Kee Chinese BBQ Sauce

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The last ingredient may seem foreign to a lot of people. You can find the Lee Kum Kee Chinese Barbecue Sauce (otherwise known as Char Siu Sauce) in any chinese supermarket. 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your ribs by removing the filmy membrane on the bone side of the rack. 
  2. Make your dry rub. Combine all the ingredients, other than the BBQ sauce, in a bowl.
  3. Rub the spices into ribs. Rub it real good!
  4. Cover the ribs and let them sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours (or overnight to get that extra extra flavour!)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Coat a baking pan in some cooking oil and spread the ribs out evenly on the pan.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for approximately 2 hours, until 1 in. of bone is showing.
  8. Take the pan out and cover the ribs with Chinese Barbecue Sauce.
  9. Put it back in the oven for another 1/2 hour.
  10. Take the ribs out and let it cool for 10 minutes.

The meat should fall right off the bone as you eat it. Hmmm so good…

 

Scrumptious Stuffed Avocados

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Avocado has got to be one of my favorite foods. It is so versatile. You can use it for sandwiches, salads, smoothies…the list goes on! This post is not so much a specific recipe but an idea of another way to eat avocado. Stuffed! I show here two versions that I’ve tried, (which were so good!) but you can definitely make it your own. Have fun!

The Savory:

Loaded with mad proteins and looking adorable, this salmon cranberry stuffed avocado is the bomb! If I weren’t so full after the second one, I would have made a third.  

Ingredients:

  • 75g of smoked salmon (or however much you want to stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
  • 2-3 roasted almonds
  • 1 ripe avocado  

Directions:

  1. Cut the avocado in half and take out the pit
  2. Scoop out a bit of avocado in the center to make some room for the stuffing
  3. Slice the salmon in to bite size pieces
  4. Chop the roasted almonds (no need to be too fine)
  5. Stuff the avocado! Ideally in this order: salmon, cranberries, almonds.

Eat/Serve immediately.

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The Sweet:

After success with the savory version, I wanted to try a sweet version. This mango coconut stuffed avocado makes me want to be on a tropical beach somewhere. A girl can dream…I guess having it as an afternoon snack while reading a good book at home ain’t too shabby either.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 tablespoon of shredded coconuts
  • 1-2 macadamia nut(s)
  • 7-8 blueberries
  • 1 ripe avocado  

Directions:

  1. Cut the avocado in half and take out the pit
  2. Scoop out a bit of avocado in the center to make some room for the stuffing
  3. Cut the mango in to bite size pieces
  4. Chop the macadamia nuts
  5. Stuff the avocado! Ideally in this order: mango, coconuts, macadamia nuts, blueberries.

The final product looks so fancy but it was actually so easy to make. It is also vegan and gluten-free.

Now, it’s your turn to get creative!