Cities


My oh my, it certainly has been a while. In fact, this blog hasn’t received love since the beginning of the year. Now I could list you a whole bunch of reasons (some valid at that!) as to where I’ve been but it’s neither here nor there. What does matter is that I’m back just in time for the summer. Now while nothing may have shown up on here, I’ve definitely kept this blog ever-present on my mind and continued to take photos, try out recipes, go out to eat and thought about food in general so that when I did return there would be plenty of content to make up for it.

I’ve also endeavoured in running a tumblr featuring food that has taken up a lot of my time and effort. But while I love looking at food photography and showcasing the works of others on that blog, it’s time for me to get back to what I originally got into blogging for.

I’m often left responsible to make dinner each night for my family during the summer time and while I do get a lot of feedback and suggestions from my family, I’m often left to my own devices to somehow come up with something edible to put on the table. I had been inspired by a chickpea salad photo and decided to make my rendition. Chickpeas are so delicious and healthy. If you have the chance to cook them yourself, it would be even better but I never have enough foresight to soak them in advance to accommodate for my craving. So for those pressed for time like myself, canned chickpeas work just as well.

My parents had recently returned from a trip to the Philippines and they brought with them numerous cans of tuna and fish in various flavourings. In keeping with the inspiration photo, I decided to take a can of chick peas and picked one of the cans of tuna to combine to make a super quick and easy side salad. Having not previously tried any of these before, it was a tough decision as to which one would accompany the chick peas the best.

I ended up deciding on afritada which in Filipino food refers to a tomato based stew. Upon opening the can, I realized how much sauce/oil was in the can which worked in my favour as that allows sufficient coating for my chickpeas. I don’t know how easily you can find this particular product in your local grocery/asian grocery store but of course you can use any flavoured tuna. You could also use plain packaged tuna and add a dressing/sauce of your choice to toss in your salad.

To add freshness, feel free to add whatever vegetables that you like to accompany the chickpeas. I added cucumbers and red onion to bring freshness. I considered tomatoes but since the sauce was tomato-based, I opted out. Bell peppers, corn, carrots, fresh herbs…whatever you had on hand would be great. Don’t forget to season to taste and get creative with the salad.

My family had this alongside chicken burgers that night as a healthier alternative to fries or chips.  I’m not necessarily a big fan of tuna or canned fish in general but I thoroughly enjoy this. I also certainly loved the ease of this recipe combination. Try it out one night and of course, Happy Eating!

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My love affair with chickpeas started in my first year of University. As a student living on campus and stuck with a meal plan, it was easy to get bored with the food pretty quickly. So I spent a good amount of time trying to eat salads (the only relatively healthy meal option available). And before I knew it, chickpeas became an integral part of my diet.

Chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans) are a great addition to meals. They are a great source of folic acid, fiber and protein to name a few. They can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels making them ideal for diabetics. They are often consumed from the canned variety. I certainly took a liking to them even after I moved off campus but discovered the economical and health benefits from just cooking dried chickpeas for yourself and that’s where this meal came in.

I keep a jar of dried chickpeas in my pantry whenever I need them. The process of cooking them from a dried state is this:

How to cook chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1. Soak the chickpeas in room temperature water overnight. Change the water if needed.

2. Fill a large pot with water. Put in the chickpeas. Make sure there’s about 2-3 cups of water for every 1 cup of chickpeas that you are cooking.

3. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.

4. Leave for about 1 hour +, checking on the doneness and tenderness of the chickpeas.

5. Use as you’d like.

It’s a fairly simple process. I’m not entirely sure it’s the exactly correct way to cook them so if anyone has better suggestions let me know as I based it off of the instructions I could find (but of course everything has variations so it’s hard to determine who is right)

Along with my chickpea obsession at this time, I was also obsessed with corn. I bought several cans of corn and decided for this meal to create a spicy fried rice with the chickpeas and the corn.


I’d provide a more solid recipe but to be honest, I just threw in whatever I had on hand (a typical tactic I employ when making food in a hurry)

Essentially I had cooked some bacon a little earlier in the day so instead of letting that valuable bacon fat go to waste, I decided to sauté some onions and garlic, threw in some sausage from a leftover the night prior, added the chickpeas and corn and finally the rice. Once that was all well incorporated and mixed together, I added whatever spices I fancied that day. I added some chili powder for kick, garlic powder and other spices. I also finely chopped some parsley and added it at the end for some fresh flavours. I can’t remember every single thing I added but I definitely remember enjoying it. It just goes to show that cooking doesn’t have to be hard. It’s all a matter of throwing together what you think would taste good to you and heating it up. Voila!

Writing this up has put me in the mood for some chickpeas so I think I’m gonna go soak some tonight. As for you guys, I hope you’ll think about trying chickpeas if you haven’t already. Happy Eating! :)


Browsing through old blogs, I discovered the fascination and adoration for macarons. Previously, the only macaroons I was aware of were those of the coconut variety but I soon discovered the creative and intriguing world of French macarons. I immediately began looking for some place to try it but unfortunately there were no places in Kingston that I could find catering to this French dessert. So my craving would have to wait until a trip back home to Toronto. In the meantime, I decided to learn whatever I could about them, their flavours, where to find some and what I should expect when it comes to a good and fresh macaron.

For those who don’t know, a macaron is a meringue-based dessert: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar. It comes in a wide variety of flavours and quick browse through food blogs, you’ll quickly see its popularity and versatility.

So I researched and looked through forums debating on where to get a decent macaron in Toronto. I compiled a list and vowed that if I was in the area of any of them, I’d venture and get my first taste. I never did end up in any of the areas; instead I got a friend to drive me out to the closest one – Ruelo Patesserie.


As you enter the store, you immediately notice the desserts sitting in the glass case ahead of you. The place is clean and colourful without being too overly decorated or in your face. The desserts are laid out with labels and prices, each looking more appetizing than the next. On the forums, I read mixed reviews from the place but I was willing to try anyways. I reviewed their flavours in advance and knew when I wanted. I ended up purchasing 11 different flavours to try and took them home to enjoy. They were packaged in a little bag for me with a card showcasing the store’s range of flavours. (more…)

The eating habits of a student can turn for the worse really easily and soon enough, you realize that you’ve spent the last few weeks chowing down on some seriously unhealthy food: pizzas, wings, chips, chocolate, baked goods. Even when you have the best intentions, you find yourself slipping back into those reliable favourites and that freshman 15 turns into a yearly 15 (yikes!). I try to combat it whenever I can by making something simple, delicious and fairly healthy (certainly a lot healthier than a bag of chips)

Cravings come often for me and some are fleeting while others stick around for a while. Eating corn was one of those lasting cravings. While grocery shopping one day I decided to pick up a can of corn just to add it to my pantry and from there got hooked. Generally speaking I’m a big fan of corn but it’s not easy to come by past the summer months hence the reliance for canned or frozen. But hey, the stomach wants what it wants and I ain’t about to start denying it the deliciousness of life.

Tilapia is another star of this dish. This fish is sweet, flaky and filling. I get the frozen filets from Costco at the beginning of every school year so I can stock up on fish in my fridge. One of my favourite ways to cook it is lightly breading it in seasoned panko crumbs and then pan-friend until golden brown. Balanced out with the corn and tomato salsa this was an extremely delicious dish.

Ingredients:

  • Filets of tilapia
  • panko crumbs
  • cooked corn niblets, room temperature (fresh, frozen or canned variety)
  • ripe tomato, chopped into cubes roughly the same size as the corn
  • spring onion, chopped
  • oil for frying
  • Ziploc bag for mixing
  • salt, pepper , taco seasoning mix

Recipe:

This is the method I went through to create this exact dish as plated in the picture. Substitutions and alternatives will be mentioned in the review section.

  • In a skillet, turn it to a medium heat and put enough oil to evenly coat the pan
  • In a large ziploc bag, fill it up with about 1/2 cup to a cup of panko crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and taco seasoning to crumbs according to tastes. Close and shake bag well to properly incorporate the spices into the crumbs.
  • Take a fillet of tilapia and place inside of bag. Shake to coat fish with panko crumbs evenly. (Essentially the shake-n-bake concept)
  • Once the oil has heated, place the fish gently into the pan. Turn over after a couple of minutes. Ensure that fish is cooked completely through and that it has turned opaque.
  • While that’s cooking, combine the corn, tomatoes and spring onions into a bowl. Season with pepper and some salt.
  • Plate together once the fish has finished cooking.

Review:

As you can see this is a totally simple recipe that I made on the fly one lunchtime. Variations come in every shape and form. Use whatever fish you’d like and season it however you’d want.  A lemon & pepper seasoning would go great with this as well. As for the salsa, use red onions if that’s what you’ve got on hand or opt out of them altogether. Chickpeas (another fav of mine) would be a nice addition to the salsa. Mix it up however you want with whatever you’d got on hand. Let me know what you decide to add to it or any other suggestions you think would go well with this. Also to clarify, the corn in my cooking prep was room temperature as I had bought already cooked canned corn so it was just a matter of adding it to the mix. However you can definitely opt to have warm corn with the tomatoes as that would work as well.

As for my opinion on my own creation, I adored it. Frying tilapia this way had already become a standard for me so the real novelty of this dish was the salsa. It only heightened my love for corn. A great balance of (semi) freshness to counteract the lightly fried fish. This would make for a great lunch or dinner for the family as it involves minimal cooking but great flavour. Try it out when you get the chance and as always, Happy Eating! :)


Christmas is one of my most favourite times of the year. I love the music, the traditions, the snow, the shopping…It really is the happiest time of the year for me. I’ve always had really good memories with my family.

A few weeks leading up to the Christmas time, especially since it corresponds with exam time for students, I tend to bake little treats to keep my energy going, give me something sweet to munch and put me in the Christmas mood. Baking cupcakes is always a quick fix and I happily decorate them in the holiday spirit.

Recipe:

it’s pretty basic and simple. Get yourself a cake box mix or use your favourite recipe. Top it off with homemade or store-bought icing and decorate as you will. It’s a great treat to do even closer to Christmas day as it is a fun activity to get others involved (relatives, children) An alternative for gingerbread men or houses since those might be a little more costly to buy or harder to make.

These were a simple white cake mix (probably french vanilla). I bought the icing and had christmas inspired red green and white sprinkles plus white chocolate chips to garnish.

My twist on the cupcake came with what was inside… (more…)

I apologize for the lack of posts going on for this blog. It is certainly not from a lack of material. I’ve just gotten so backlogged on my photo editing that I just haven’t gotten around to posting anything on here. Also, I’ve tried to focus my attention to my other blogs which for the majority of them, post on a regular basis (every other day). So as not to leave you out in the dark, please check out those other sites of mine in the Blog Roll on the side as well as conveniently collected on my main site Jara Mae. From there you can be updated on all my blogs, my twitter and various social media sites. Please also support my site by joining the Facebook page (Jara Mae Inc) to receive updates on everything that I’m working on.

In the meantime, I decided to start up a new series called Meal of the Day. Often times I cook/make simple meals at home consisting of leftovers or food that I have around the house. Food that I wouldn’t necessarily devote a whole blog to as it normally wasn’t created by me. I think it would give some insight about what I was eating every day, maybe record some memorable meals. I will try to do them as often as possible, though don’t hold your breath on getting it on  daily basis but I’ll work towards it. If you have meals that you’d like to share feel free to leave a link so I can take a look. It’s always interesting to see what people eat regularly besides all the creative recipes/dishes that you see on food blogs.

This is what I had for dinner last night. A fairly well-balanced meal if you ask me. It consisted of:

  • Half a plate of salad: mixed greens, dried cranberries, feta, almonds, red onion, fresh button mushrooms, lemon citrus dressing
  • quarter plate of white rice: I normally eat brown but this is what I had on hand at the time
  • a few slices of smoked salmon
  • 2-3 tbsp of giniling: Filipino dish of ground meat with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers
  • for dessert: 2 yogurts, vanilla & mixed berry

A very filling meal. I ended up eating a banana as well later in the evening to tide me over for the night. Not bad for student eating :)

I seldom visit the Pickle Barrel restaurant, not because a lack of decent food or a dislike with the atmosphere but simply because it never springs as a go-to option when hunger strikes. I’ve gone a total of 3 or 4 times in the past, mostly to this exact location since it is the closest to my home.

My sister had just gotten another acceptance letter from another university so our family decided to celebrate by going out for the night and getting some food. After much deliberation as to where we could get what my sister was craving, we decided to head  down to Markville Shopping Centre and visit the Pickle Barrel for some dinner.It had been a long time since our last visit but we were excited.

The Pickle Barrel has a wide range of menu items for any meal of the day. Breakfast until late at night, there are many options to choose from. Although we had gone for dinnertime, my sister and I were drawn to their breakfast and brunch items (who could resist pancakes smothered in sweet goodness?) but we went the traditional route and stuck to dinner entrees. Pickle Barrel was also featuring new items on the menu as seen in the above photo. An adaption to the summer season, this menu has lighter, fresher options. I’m sure there’s something on the menu that would entice you. (more…)

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