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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For those who don’t know, my hands-down most favourite dessert of ALL time is chocolate dipped strawberries. I’m not entirely sure when that obsession started but regardless of when it did, it stuck. What I love most about them is that the combine two spheres of desserts into one: fresh, ripe fruit and creamy, satisfying chocolate to create the ultimate dessert for me. Despite my intense love for these things, I rarely get a chance to eat them. So when strawberries were in season, I quickly decided to buy a few and put my leftover chocolate chips to good use.


Recipe:

The process is simple. Get a bunch of ripe and fresh strawberries, wash them thoroughly and pat them dry. Then melt the chocolate however most convenient for you (I typically opt for the microwave but would just as easily set up a bain-marie if I planned to do a lot. Get the strawberries, dip it in the chocolate and set onto some wax paper to cool. If you’d like, you can dip the strawberries into nuts or decorating sugars after the chocolate. You can choose whatever kind of chocolate that you’d like based on your tastes. This would also be a fun cooking event to do with kids.

I thought that these would be particularly cute to make for your special someone for Valentine’s day. I used both white and milk chocolate and then dipped them in red and white sugar and peanuts just for a different taste. They were all equally good and I made a fairly large batch but was quickly eaten in the days after. I haven’t made it since but when strawberries are back in season I’ll definitely be picking up some to make this again.

Happy Eating! :)

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…)

For those in Canada, you may have seen the new ad’s for McDonald’s latest McMini sandwich, the Zesty Mango McMini. This is the 3rd sandwich in the line, the other two being pesto and Thai. You get either grilled or breaded chicken. Upon first glance, it’s a rather strange flavour combination for a fast food chain like Mcdonald”s. Their efforts to briefly step away from mainstream burgers and fries to adapt to the diverse palette most people have these days is admirable. I want to first state that I have not eaten this sandwich or any of the other McMini sandwiches simply because McDonald’s is not a common item in my diet. In fact, other than a quick breakfast while moving into town, I can easily count on one hand my visits to McDonald’s in the last few years. It’s not just McDonald’s that I’ve stepped away from, but most fast food chains out there. But back to what I was saying.

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I haven’t eaten this but my mother has and she’s strongly encouraged me never to eat it. A simple question turned into a very heated review of her disappointing experience with the sandwich. I suppose she was hoping for something more flavourful. Instead she remarked that the bread was soggy, the chicken rubbery and the sauce of little taste. All in all a bad sandwich and one that should be avoided. She doesn’t have a total hate for McDonald’s so please don’t consider this her latest disapproval of the entire menu; she just really disliked this one. And since she and I have fairly similar tastes, I suppose I shall take her up on her advice and keep my $2.00 or so for something more appetizing (every cent counts as a broke student lol). However don’t take her word for it or mine. Go out and try it for yourself and if you do, please report back. I’d be interested in hearing other people’s reviews!

I cannot believe that merely a year ago I started my blogging journey with the creation of this food blog. Inspired by Thanksgiving cooking and the many other food blogs  I came across, I created this to share my cooking experiences both in my kitchen as well as out in the world. Since then, I’ve enjoyed pockets of my own defined ‘success’ and have enjoyed every minute of this.

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Whether this if your first time stopping by or you’re a continued reader, I thank you for your time. I appreciate your efforts to drop by, have a read and hopefully enjoy what I have to say. I’ve heard from many lovely people in the past year, been exposed to many new opportunities and discovered two big passions of mine in life; food and writing. It is through this particular experience that I have pursued further writing opportunities  and hope someday that more success will follow. It surprises me every day as my readership continues to grow that anyone comes here at all. I remember the days when even having 5 people (which I assumed were just family or friends) come by my page gave me so much joy. Now, my posts featured on other sites, people trying my recipes or asking me cooking advice, taking my restaurant reviews into consideration and belonging to an amazing food blogging community are even bigger joys that have been added to my life because of this opportunity.

Funding hasn’t always come easy. I’ve been fortunate to have supportive friends and family who have chipped in when they can. I want to continue to enforce the concept that I do this purely out of love for the craft. I always question whether adding ads or sponsored posts would be appropriate and beneficial to me but I don’t want to detract from the focus of my blog which is the food and my writing. I want to thank those who have contributed financially, whether buying me my domain, cookbooks, tools or the ingredients to make the food or trips to favourite restaurants. Without you loving people, I certainly wouldn’t have a site.

Unfortunately due to the expansion of my writing endeavours and the normal stresses of life, I’ve come to neglect this blog a bit but I promise that in due time I will return to my original love with full force. There’s many yummy features to come in the near future.

In the meantime I wanted to mark the top 3 posts of the last year.

1. Nutella Stuffed French Toast


This post is where most of my readership comes from. Directed from the world nutella day page which someone kindly submitted me for, I’ve received a lot of great feedback for this recipe. This is probably one of the things I’ve cooked the most in the past few years and a definite favourite of mine. It’s simple and delicious.

2. Rainforest Cafe Review

I was initially surprised at the success of this post. I guess a lot of people are interested in knowing what the quality of service and food there is at the Rainforest. I don’t blame them considering the amount of money you might inevitably be spending at this place. I hope it has been useful to many and that I captured the restaurant accurately.

3. Rainbow Birthday Cake

Probably my personal favourite post of the past year, this too has found its own popularity. Often stumbled upon by those looking for birthday cakes for kids, this fun cake is great for all ages. Marking my leave from the teenage years, I was inspired to create this cute cake for my birthday and it seems like everyone enjoyed the idea also.

I simply cannot express the gratitude and joy that I have for everyone who supports this and any of my other blogging adventures. I cannot wait to see what a new year will bring especially as I continue to work on my dedication and blog post quality. Please continue to support me and visit by often. I promise to keep this adventure going.

As always, Happy Eating! :)

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 :)