Tag Archives: breakfast

Homemade PBJ frozen yogurt pops

Warning peanut-butter-jelly fans: this may keep you by your freezer for the rest of the summer.

While looking up a jiaozi recipe the other day, I caught sight of a link for “peanut butter frozen yogurt” and was instantly intrigued. It’s been hot. Sean loves peanut butter. I’ve been dying to expand my repertoire of desserts not requiring an oven. When I found how out easy it was to make (frozen yogurt really is just yogurt that’s frozen! Well, plus a few things around the kitchen), I headed immediately for the fridge.

Inspired by the recipe that recipe was inspired by, I added a fruity twist by throwing a spoonful of raspberry jam in with the peanut butter, milk, yogurt, and honey. The raspberry seeds and peanut chunks gave this sweet (and slightly salty) treat extra texture and a sort of natural, healthier feel.

While these creamy ice pops do contain whole milk, full-fat yogurt, and Skippy peanut butter (yes, not the most natural PB around), I’ve already convinced myself that this is still better for me than store-bought ice-cream with its chemicals and artificial flavourings (sorry, Magnum, I still love you). Once you try these, you will too :-)

And if you’re trying to do with fewer carbs this summer, this perfect combo of ingredients is basically a breadless breakfast on a stick that you can even take for the road. No, I’m not even kidding.

Berry peanut butter frozen yogurt pops
Adapted from this recipe. For enhanced texture, use crunchy peanut butter and jam with seeds/fruit pieces instead of jelly.

1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry (or other berry) jam
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (160g) plain, sweetened yogurt
2 tbsp honey (or more if using unsweetened yogurt)

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Do a taste test: it should taste very sweet (the sweetness will lessen once it’s frozen).
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or into shot glasses and place in freezer. If using shot glasses, stick a wooden stirrer or half a wooden disposable chopstick in the centre of each after about an hour. Freeze for another two hours or until completely solid.
3. Remove the frozen treat from its mold by running under or dipping in warm water. Enjoy!


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Easter brunch

Happy Easter! Today was supposed to be the end of our Lenten fast, the day we would be released once again into the world of omnivorism. But we’ve decided we’re not ready to head back yet. I guess you could say we’re still riding the high of our new gastronomic adventure; cooking and eating meatlessly is still interesting enough that we’re motivated to push on. So we’re giving ourselves another month, after which Sean is going to Ireland for two weeks and worries that familial/cultural pressures will make avoiding meat truly difficult. After his trip, we — or at least he — will know whether this resolve is sustainable for the long term.

So, instead of pigging out on bacon ham and sausage for Easter brunch, we had a satisfying meal of tofu-veggie-egg scramble and sweet potato fries with homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise). Sean’s been frying sweet potatoes all week while I’ve been at work, so I wanted to get in on the fun too.

Since we don’t have an oven and I’m wasn’t into the idea of deep-frying our fries, I just pan-fried pre-blanched sweet potato strips with a bit more oil than I normally do.

In spite (or maybe because?!) of this, the fries didn’t really get crispy :( They were still delicious though, especially with the aioli, and when they were all gone we found ourselves craving more.

The scramble was great with some ketchup. Usually if I use a whole onion and a green pepper with four eggs the veggies get really overwhelming, but the tofu balanced the textures while giving the dish more substance.

The kind of tofu I used is called 五香豆腐干 (wuxiang doufu gan, spiced dried bean curd — though it doesn’t actually feel dry), which is much firmer and meatier than regular packaged “white” tofu (even the “firm” kind), and tastes faintly of five-spice powder. They go for around 2.7 RMB/three 5x5x2cm pieces, which is a decent amount for two people — though I could easily eat three squares of these in a meal!

Sweet potato fries (pan-fried)
3 sweet potatoes (white or orange)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt, or more as needed
2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar
Ground red pepper/cayenne

1. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing off any dirt. Peel and cut into strips 1-2cm wide. Throw into pot of boiling water and leave for about 3 minutes, or until half-cooked. Remove from heat and drain well.
2. Toss with paprika (and optional seasonings if used).
3. Heat oil in non-stick pan with heat on medium-high. Add potato strips and salt. Fry, tossing every 30 seconds until edges begin to turn dark brown (~10 mins). Add more oil as needed.
4. Serve hot with aioli (see recipe link below).

**This is not the best recipe if you want crispy fries. If you have an oven or are willing to deep-fry, I’d suggest those methods. I’m considering getting a small oven so I can make these all the time with half the oil!

Tofu-veggie-egg scramble

3 squares 五香豆腐干 (spiced dried bean curd) or other firm tofu, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp other seasonings e.g. sesame seeds, basil, chili powder (optional)

1. Heat oil in pan with heat on medium-high. Add onion, frying until slightly browned. Add green pepper and bean curd/tofu, cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Beat eggs with milk. Heat pan again and add eggs, stirring until fluffy and almost fully cooked. Then put tofu/veggie mixture back in, along with salt and pepper, mixing well.
3. Serve hot with ketchup and/or other seasonings.

Relevant resources:

  • The aioli recipe I used, plus a sprinkle of basil and dill (just ’cause) and less mayo/lemon juice for more garlic flavour

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    Open sesame

    One of my new favourite foods is black sesame. It’s actually two foods, I guess: black sesame seeds and black sesame paste, both of which can be found at our closest Carrefour store, giving me another reason to keep crawling back in spite of its less-than-comfortable shopping environment.

    Even with the odours of a neighbouring KFC hanging heavy in the stagnant mall air, the aroma of freshly ground sesame manages to make its way through the aisles, past the cashiers, and into my nostrils every time I walk past the store, luring me in. Inside, in the middle of the store, sits a little station displaying bottles of sesame oil and bags of various seeds, ground grains, and suchlike, as well as a machine that grinds sesame seeds into a paste — the source of the smell — that is funneled into plastic containers for immediate sale.

    Having read about the nutritional properties of sesame seeds and been told it is believed (by the Chinese, at least) to improve hair health/colour, I picked up a bag of pre-toasted sesame seeds a few weeks back… and have been sprinkling the stuff on almost everything since.

    Not sure if my hair is any different, but it has made many a savoury dish more interesting and textured and flavourful, and I feel better about showering a veggie dish with seeds than dousing it with its also immensely delicious — but likely more fattening and less fibrous — cousin, sesame oil. (I still use a lot of sesame oil though, just less :)

    As I’ve also been looking for a replacement for peanut butter, the newborn sesame junkie in me dragged me back to Carrefour last weekend for some black sesame paste. Luckily for me, they had just finished making a new batch, so I was able to grab a fresh container of the stuff.

    This sesame paste has a more subtle flavour than your average peanut butter — or even the sesame paste you find on supermarket shelves– and might be deemed too bland by some (Sean is sticking with his Skippy), but that’s because there’s nothing added — no salt, sugar, msg, hydrogenated oils. It does have the nutty fragrance and delightfully gooey, slightly grainy texture of natural peanut butter, making it a perfect match with honey on whole-wheat toast.

    The tar-like paste might look kind of ominous, but it has become my favourite way to start the day, and its relatively high calorie content gives me energy for my bike commute. I have a feeling the stuff would also be delicious with noodles — I’ll keep you posted.

    Where to find…

  • black sesame seeds: Carrefour, 17.8 RMB/300g bag (lasts ages)
  • fresh-ground black sesame seed paste: Carrefour, 33.8 RMB/500g
  • Mankattan brand whole-wheat high-fibre bread: Carrefour and Trust Mart (and prob. other large supermarkets), ~6 RMB/6-slice bag
  • Carrefour (Zhongshan Park store)
    B1-2/F, Cloud 9 Mall (龙之梦购物中心),
    1018 Changning Lu (长宁路), near Kaixuan Lu (凯旋路)

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    Mid-week brunch

    Since I accrue a generous 1.75 days of vacation a month, I was “forced” to take a day off before the end of March, which also happens to be the end of the fiscal year. My boss sort of just decided that I’d take it on Wednesday, which was perfect since Sean also didn’t have work that day. So we made brunch, using up all the produce we had lying around:

    Sean usually lets me do my thing in the kitchen, but that morning he joined me and it was fun.

    Chives & eggs (韭菜炒蛋):

    Basically an omelet using the fragrant/pungent Chinese chive. Normally a dish served with rice, we decided this could also be a breakfast food.

    Blueberry-banana-pear smoothie:

    Smoothies are Sean’s specialty. He’s been drinking them almost daily, even in the dead of winter, ever since we bought a blender back in 2009. It’s simple, refreshing, and, as he likes to say, a quick and delicious way to get in multiple servings of fruit. Our 99rmb blender has withstood the abuse pretty well.

    Home fries:

    We don’t eat potatoes as much as we’d like, because it’s a bit of a pain to cook (wash-peel-cut-boil-fry), but we lurve our homefries! We didn’t have onions so we threw in a bit of extra chives for flavour. We also accidentally left the potatoes in the pot too long so they got mushy, but the two of us still gobbled up all six potatoes.

    Chives and eggs

    A handful of Chinese chives (I don’t weigh my food, sorry. A good measure would be as much as you can wrap your fingers around with leaves extended)
    4 eggs
    1/2 tbsp milk
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp cornstarch
    1 tsp salt

    We used a variation of this Chinese recipe.

    1. Wash chives thoroughly, removing any bits that are brown or yellow. Chop into 5cm lengths.
    2. Heat oil in pan, throw in chives and add cornstarch. Fry for about a minute.
    3. Beat eggs and milk in bowl.
    4. Arrange chives in pan into a thin flat layer. Pour eggs evenly into pan, add salt, and let cook for about a minute.
    5. When bottom of egg begins to solidify, flip the mixture (cut it into 3 pieces with spatula first if need be), pressing lightly on egg to force water out.
    6. Continue flipping until both sides are cooked and water has evaporated.

    Fruit Smoothie

    1 cup milk
    2 ripe bananas, peeled and broken into quarters
    1 pear, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces
    A handful of blueberries (or strawberries), washed

    1/2 cup sweetened yogurt (optional)
    Ice cubes (optional)
    Honey (optional, if fruit isn’t ripe/sweet)

    1. Put fruit and milk (and optional ingredients) in blender.
    2. Blend for one minute (longer if you use ice), or until smooth.
    3. Drink immediately. (You won’t be able to resist anyway!)
    4. Adjust proportions to your preference.

    Makes 2 large glasses.

    You can pretty much use whatever fruit you like in addition to bananas. We prefer berries, (Asian) pears, peaches, and mangoes, whenever they are in season. (We’ve noticed that a lot of fruits only appear in fruit stores at certain times of the year. Thankfully bananas seem to always be in season!)

    Home fries

    4-6 potatoes, peeled and diced
    1 onion (or green onion or chives), peeled and cut
    1 green pepper, peeled and cut
    Olive oil
    2 tsp black pepper
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp other spices (paprika/chili flakes/basil/dill/cumin/etc.)

    2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

    1. Boil a few cups of water in large pot. Add potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, depending on size of potato pieces.
    2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in pan, put onion in and fry for 2 minutes.
    3. Add green pepper and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
    4. When potatoes are almost cooked (before they turn mushy!), turn off heat and drain. Throw them back in pot and add salt, pepper, spices, 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss until evenly coated.
    5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan, add potatoes. Move them around every 30 seconds until sides are browned. (If not using non-stick pan, flip them more frequently so they don’t burn!) Add more oil if necessary.
    6. When potatoes are sufficiently browned, pour onion and pepper mixture back into pan. Remove from heat when potatoes are fully cooked.
    7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with ketchup.


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