Kingston, ON


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! :)

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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 first tasted this dessert in during my summer employments. Like many other office jobs, sweet treats are a favourite especially during those  long days where you need a sugar boost at 4 in the afternoon. Doughnuts, cookies, cakes, chocolates, and candy were prized at my office.  These sweet treats were no different. Given to us as a reward when we had zero errors on our reports, we were treated to this unique Greek dessert.

I will admit that when first offered to me, I refused due to just unfamiliarity. It didn’t look completely appetizing at the time that I first saw it, inside a box clumped as one big sticky mess. I finally got the courage to eat it and totally fell in love. It was definitely as sweet as it looked. The ball itself was like a doughnut but surrounding and absorbed inside is the honey syrup that bursts into your mouth when you bite into it. It’s warm and filling, definitely not something you could eat handfuls of.

I recently remembered eating the dessert and tried to find if any Greek restaurant in town had them on their menu. Sadly, there was none. My craving had grown and I just had to have some so I took it upon myself to find a recipe, gather the ingredients and give this dessert a try.

P.S. I apologize for the lack of photos during the creating process. I didn’t really know how it would turn out and I spent a lot of time checking things twice and ensuring things would go well to take the necessary pictures. Should I make this again, I’ll be sure to update with step-by-step photos (more…)

After making the rice that day, I decided to make  a stir fry to go along with it. I kind of threw everything together based so ingredient amounts are unknown. I suggest you experiment for yourself. Just everything in little amounts untill it tastes right to you. It’s essentially a basic stir-fry. you could substitute the meat for any kind and use prepared sauces if you’d like. sky’s the limit :)

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • snow peas, chopped in half or thirds
  • carrots, chopped
  • chicken strips, frozen or fresh
  • few tbsps of soy sauce
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil

Instructions

1. Heat the pan up to medium to medium-high. Add oil. Stir in onions until slightly translucent

2. Add carrots and sauté with the onions for a few minutes.

3. Add the snow peas. Pour a small amount of water to generate more steam. Add soy sauce and season to taste. Stir often and ensure continued moisture in the pan.

4. I opted to use frozen chicken strips because they were what I had on hand and they were quick. I actually enjoy the taste of these chicken strips and it went really.

Review

This is the final product. The stir fry went really well with the pilau rice. A squeeze of lemon freshened everything up. It was fairly light, full of flavour and well seasoned. Looking at this photo makes me want to cook it up again. I hope you enjoy. If you have any further questions on the recipe, let me know :)

Rouxbe is an online cooking school that I came across a while ago. It has informative professional videos that demonstrate cooking techniques, information on food varieties and overall good source for food information. After watching the videos you can take quizzes and see your progress. Membership gains you access to more videos. I highly recommend checking out the site for yourself. Here’s a preview video of this specific recipe and their overall style of videos.

The video recipes are really wonderful and explain everything step by step. While looking over their recipes one afternoon I came across a rice recipe  that enticed me. I was fortunate to have all the ingredients and tried it out myself. Unless done in a Asian  fried rice manner,  most of the rice I’ve eaten has been plain to accompany as a filler for the rest of the dishes on the table. I also love anything with coconut in it (curries, soups, noodle dishes) so coconut infused rice sounded just as good. I followed the instructions, adjusting to my taste and equipment. The end result was amazing.

Recipe adapted from Rouxbe

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cups Cold Water
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • small sprinkle of lemon grass seasoning (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1 cup)
  • 3 green onions (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • handful of crushed peanuts (optional)

Instructions


1. Heat up the rice cooker then add the oil and diced onions and sauté until translucent.

2. Then add the rice and sauté for a few minutes until the rice is coated in the oil and slightly translucent.

3. Add the cold water, coconut milk, salt and pepper and lemon grass seasoning. Place the lid on the rice cooker (making sure the rice cooker is still on, and has not switched to the warm setting).

4. Let cook for approximately twenty minutes, or until it switches off indicating that the rice is done.


5. Fluff rice with a fork to ensure no clumped mounds of it. Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions and fold into the rice along. The peanuts I have are home roasted and seasoned whole so I crush them myself with whatever I can find that’s heavy.

Review

This is the final product. The original recipe calls for fried crispy onions which you can make at home or buy. I didn’t really want to go through that process so I opted for crushed peanuts for a textural difference and it went well with the coconut rice. It added a nice nutty element. Although liquid amounts are quite precise (straying from it might result in undercooked rice or to the other extreme, a coconut soup with rice), seasonings are yours to experiment with. Cilantro and green onions add freshness to the rice. You could experiment to put more spice into it as I might do at some point. I added lemon grass seasoning just because I had it on hand. Let me know how yours turns out and enjoy :)

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