simple salad dressing

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ingredients: olive oil, honey, lemons, shallots, garlic, dried cranberries, sea-salt, pepper, and mushrooms (optional).

mince garlic, slice shallots, and heat up both in a pan with olive oil. add the cranberries (and mushrooms), squeeze fresh lemon juice in, add a bit of honey, then season with salt and pepper.

pour over your greens of choice – i usually opt for kale and add a bit of avocado in there as well.

sensei sushi

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while i was in the philippines last december, i met up with bea (an old friend that i went to school with in jakarta), who took me to sensei sushi. she always had such great foodporn from this place on her instagram account, so i was excited to check it out.

the place isn’t that fancy, just a little hole-in-the-wall, but their food was amazing! really high-quality japanese fusion food. we ordered a bunch of dishes to share, so we could try a little bit of everything the foie gras nigiri (picture #1) was one of my favourites, along with the tuna tartare on kang kong crisps (picture #5). we were allowed to bring our own bottle of wine in, and they didn’t make us pay a corkage fee, which was nice. our bill still ended up being over 2,000 pesos between the two of us (around $45 – $50), which shocked me since we were in asia, we weren’t paying for any alcohol, and the place wasn’t located in an upscale area or inside a 5-star hotel.

it’s crazy how expensive the philippines is becoming, especially since the average wages are so low! according to this article, the TOP, best paying salary for a recent grad there is around 23,000 pesos (which is $500) a month. the top, best paying salary for an oil and gas ENGINEER that has 1 – 4 years of experience is around 40,000 pesos ($900) a month and the top, best paying salary for those in the IT industry with over five years of experience is 55,000 pesos (roughly $1,200) a month.

According to Jobstreet Philippines, the average monthly salary of a fresh graduate (based on the list of jobs posted on their site) is P16,524 (roughly $372). So if you are earning more than P16,524 you are already earning more than the average of your peers.” – http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/biggest-paying-jobs-philippines/

crispy gnocchi with spinach pesto

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the spinach pesto recipe was taken from one of my favourite food blogs, frugal feeding.

ingredients: spinach, garlic cloves, feta cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, canola oil, gnocchi, parmesan cheese, sea-salt, and black pepper.

place spinach, garlic cloves, feta cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender – blend until it’s at a consistency you like and tada… homemade pesto in seconds! boil gnocchi in a pot until done and then drain; pan fry in canola oil until slightly crispy. place in a bowl, cover the gnocchi with the homemade pesto, garnish with chopped walnuts, sprinkle parmesan cheese on it, and season with sea-salt and pepper.

the best eggs benny in vancouver.

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the bc benny (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and onions – i get it without the onions) they serve at the sunshine diner is the best eggs benny in town. i’ve tried quite a few different places over the years, and have found pretty good ones across the city, but i am sticking with my claim that this is the best eggs benny in vancouver. the hollandaise sauce that they make is to die for. i’m a fan of trying new things, but i can never deviate from my usual order. i love how over the span of almost 10 years, this dish hasn’t changed a single bit and tastes EXACTLY the same. the only thing that’s changed about it is that now it comes with a side of fresh fruit (that’s actually fresh, and not del monte in syrup from a can) and a bowl of homefries (you used to have to add it on for an additional charge), which are both great changes. they also make a pretty mean milkshake – thick, creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. you can mix flavours together, so i usually go for the butterscotch espresso combo.

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the place itself is super cute – a legitimate 50’s style diner with comfortable booths, jukeboxes, and all the appropriate decor. great vibes, great service, and the best eggs benny in town.

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mint in meatballs? delicious.

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mint in meatballs… i was skeptical at first, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious.

i would normally post a link back to the original recipe, but i deviated so much from it that there’d be no point. well, i didn’t deviate from it ingredient-wise, but i just didn’t agree with the techniques she used. firstly, the author told me to set my oven at 425°C, and i did at first, but then all this smoke started to emerge from the oven so i turned it down to 350 before a fire started. the author of the original recipe also wanted to GRATE the zucchini and sear the meatballs over the stove before placing them in the oven – ain’t nobody got time for that! i chopped up the zucchini in my blender (it had a “chop” button that i’ve been wanting to test out) and i stuck the meatballs straight in the oven until they were fully cooked. i love finding efficient ways to do things, without compromising quality. some might see it as laziness, but i prefer the term “being resourceful.”

besides, who wants to cook a laborious dinner after returning home tired from a full day at work? that’s what i thought.

ingredients: ground turkey, zucchini, green onions, fresh mint leaves, cilantro, cloves of garlic, egg, sea-salt, pepper, and cumin.

pre-heat oven to 350°C. chop up the ingredients and place in a bowl. crack the egg in there, add the spices, and mix everything around with your hands. shape into meatballs, put on a baking tray (i lined mine with a sheet of wax paper), and bake for around 15 – 20 minutes, or until they are done.

easy, simple, and delicious.

crockpot magic: dinner that will make itself, and leftovers for lunch

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crockpots are one of the most incredible inventions of mankind. the greatest thing about crockpot recipes is that most of them require little to no prep, you can toss all the ingredients in there in the morning before work, leave it to cook for the day, and come home to a delicious dinner that cooked itself.

here’s the recipe to a dish i tried last week. i didn’t use measurements as usual, but just felt it out according to my personal preferences and taste-buds (eg. i like garlic, so i put a lot of garlic in there).

ingredients: chicken, black beans, corn, onions, garlic, chicken broth (just enough to almost cover everything), cilantro, avocado, sea-salt, cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, and rice.

the only real prep that this recipe requires is chopping up the onions and garlic, which i did the night before. i put all the ingredients (except for the cilantro, avocado, and rice) into the crockpot, and left it to cook for the day on the “low” setting (i turned it on at 7 am and came home to it at around 6 pm). then i shred the chicken up into pieces (with a fork and knife) without taking it out of the crockpot, stirred it around, and left it to cook for another 15 minutes. while it was cooking, i made some rice in my rice cooker, chopped up cilantro and avocado, and then put a bowl together when it was all done.

i also had leftovers for days, and i brought a tupperware full with me to work the next day. bringing my lunch to work is something i’ve never been good at, but managed to successfully do four out of five days last week – it was quite the milestone for me, as this was the first time that has happened in my entire working life. according to this article, people who go out for lunch every single day spend roughly around $2,500 a year on lunch. definitely something to think about.

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dubai: no taxes and no cold weather, what’s not to love?

visitng dubai has always been on my bucket-list and recently, i finally got a chance to go. what an incredible city: warm weather, an abundance of nice rooftop lounges, and beach clubs everywhere. my perfect city! definitely a bit excessive at times (aka the indoor snowboarding hill found inside a mall, plus the huge aquarium complete with sharks and diving cages, also found at a mall) but this city has it all. if north america and asia had a baby, they’d name it dubai. it was surprisingly clean, which was a shock to me because most cities in the world that i visit usually aren’t (i’m looking at you new york). it’s an expensive city, but with good reason, and at least the salaries people make there match up. friends that live there are making much more than they would doing the same jobs here in canada, and no one gets taxed on what they earn, which makes a massive difference! there’s also an extensive expatriate community there, which i found really refreshing and comforting, probably because of the way i grew up as a tck. amina, one of my best friends that currently lives there, put together the perfect itinerary for my vacation.

bliss lounge at the sheraton on jbr

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bliss was one of the first places i went to during my trip, and i fell in love immediately. i couldn’t believe that such a place was just a short walk from my friend’s apartment! it reminded me of beach clubs in bali and embodied the definition of “vacation” perfectly. beds right on the beach, waiters coming right up to your bed to serve you food and drinks, deep, chill, house music (accompanied by a live saxophonist), and the softest sand beneath your feet. i know the sand is technically “fake”, but it felt as real as the softest, whitest sand i’ve stepped on in tropical islands in asia. i ordered the rainbow roll and the sushi was surprisingly decent, i was not expecting to find quality sushi in dubai.

barasti

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barasti is another beach club that we went to – not quite as classy as bliss, but still relaxing and fun nonetheless. how casual it is was actually quite refreshing, because most places in dubai won’t let you in without proper footwear (aka no flipflops) and a reservation. great drink and food specials during happy hour, and turns into quite the outdoor beach club at night – there’s nothing like dancing to awesome house music while being barefoot on the sand.

shades at the address hotel (dubai marina)

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the address hotels are a huge chain of upscale hotels in dubai, and one of amina’s clients for work. a rocket pesto linguini with prawns from shades makes the perfect lunch. paired with a drink, on a bed, poolside with a view… you can’t really ask for more.

the palace (address hotel downtown)

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the palace is also part of the address hotel chain, and another place we went for poolside drinks… but this time in tents.

helio

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helio is a place i discovered on my own, while amina was at work one day. it was right on the marina, which looks similar to vancouver’s seawall because it was designed by the same guy. i ordered besara (a traditional egyptian recipe made with puree of skinless foul blended with dill, herbs and garlic, topped with crispy fried onions) that came with pita bread, and my own personal shisha (which is very common there, i swear the air just permanently smells like shisha).

barracuda (on jumeirah road)

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my friend mace took me to this amazing seafood restaurant where we were able to pick our own fresh items and have them cooked. it reminded me a lot of jimbaran in bali. we ordered an assortment of prawns, fish, and clams, along with the side salads and pita bread. i was wondering where the alcohol was on the menu, and mace informed me that no restaurants in dubai could serve alcohol since it was illegal, and that the only places that were allowed to serve alcohol were the ones in hotels. ohhhhh that’s why we were always drinking in hotels! 

tom & serg

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cute contemporary brunch place that originated in australia. i ordered the smoked salmon and poached eggs on zucchini fritters, with hollandaise a side of avocado. it was delicious, gluten-free, and they served great coffee there too.

atmosphere at the burj khalifa

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atmosphere is the lounge on top of the burj khalifa, the tallest building in the world. i can’t even explain how incredible it feels to be up that high. there’s something so calming about being so far from the rest of the world. the lounge has a wooden interior, and i felt like i was on a private jet or a high-class yacht. we had window seats and made it right in time to watch the sunset. these stuffed olives (one of the better bar olives i’ve had in my life) and smoked almonds (they almost tasted like meat) were served with our drinks, and both were incredible tasting.

armani lounge

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also located inside the burj was the armani lounge. your dubai experience isn’t complete until you’ve had a glass of champagne here.

i went to a few more places that aren’t pictured here: mall of the emirates, the dubai mall,(the biggest mall in the world), a “dive bar” (which was still really nice and located in a hotel) to watch the hockey game, the le meridien for poolside drinks to the sunset (where we also saw peacocks just randomly roaming around), and also to eat at maya, the mexican restaurant there (we sneakily got in without having proper reservations), and some restaurant next to the burj, which had a great view of the fountain show. one week in dubai definitely wasn’t enough time and there’s so much more i want to do (like the all you can eat and drink brunch at atlantis, the palm) but not to worry… dubai, i’ll be back.