August 29, 2013

Golden Summer Squash & Corn Soup

Golden Summer Squash and Corn Soup, topped with Feta & Chives

I apologize that I haven't been able to share a recipe post in a couple of weeks now!  I thought I would have plenty of downtime in Japan for blogging, but it turned out I barely even had time to email my family at night - not that I'm complaining, because it meant I was keeping busy there and seeing lots of sights!  Now that I'm home though, I'm so excited to be able to get back into a routine, including blogging and cooking for myself again!

I had a lot of great food in Japan, but considering I didn't know all the ingredients that went into my meals (or sometimes what my meal even was), it's nice to be able to make my own meals now where I can control exactly what goes into them.  And with summer flying by, all I've been wanting to throw into my meals lately is tons of summer veggies!  I also caught a pretty bad cold in Japan that I've been suffering through all week, so I knew as soon as I got back that I wanted to make a summer soup.

Golden Summer Squash and Corn Soup, topped with Feta & Chives

I'd bookmarked this golden summer squash and corn soup from Eating Well (one of my favourite recipe sources) a while ago, so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to finally make it.  The soup is pretty simple - basically you sauté some onions and summer squash, puree them with vegetable broth, add some fresh corn, and top with feta and chives.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, like using veggie broth instead of chicken, onion plus garlic instead of shallots (mostly because I didn't have any), adding some jalapeno for spice and an extra cob of corn to be pureed with the squash, and using dried basil and fresh chives as the herbs (but you can use whatever you like). 

This soup was bright and summery but warm and comforting at the same time.  I especially loved the chunks of feta, which sounded like a strange addition at first, but surprisingly worked pretty well.  While this hasn't exactly helped my cold this week, it definitely satisfied my craving for a fresh homemade summer meal!

Golden Summer Squash and Corn Soup, topped with Feta & Chives

Summer Squash and Corn Soup with Feta & Chives

Adapted from Eating Well

Makes 4-6 servings


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 pounds yellow summer squash (the ones that look like zucchini) (about 3 medium squash), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed (divided)
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 a jalapeno, minced (or a whole pepper for more spice)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
~1/4 cup chopped chives
~1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes, stirring often.  Add squash and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add kernels from one ear of corn along with the garlic, stir, and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add vegetable broth, basil, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer about 5 minutes. 

Transfer mixture to a blender in 3 batches, being careful not to fill the blender too high as the mixture will be hot.  Puree each batch until smooth, transferring the pureed portions to a separate large measuring cup or bowl as you go.  Once everything has been pureed, return it all to the saucepan over medium heat.  Add the remaining corn along with the jalapeno, and let simmer gently for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Add additional seasoning to taste at this point.  Serve warm and top each portion with about 1 tablespoon each of feta and chives (or more, if desired).

August 27, 2013

What I Ate in Tokyo

I just recently returned from a week-long trip to Tokyo, Japan, where I attended a conference and fit in lots of sightseeing as well!  I'm slowly getting back into a normal routine again now (the 13 hour time difference has really messed up my sleep cycles) and trying to organize all the pictures I took, so now I can finally share some of the food I ate there!  A word of warning before I start though, I'm not exactly the most adventurous eater, and there are a lot of things (meat items, specifically) that I don't eat, so when the majority of menus we encountered there were only in Japanese, I was often too scared to try anything new!  I'm sorry!  I know a lot of people will be disappointed that I didn't even venture into a sushi restaurant (though surprisingly, I don't even think I saw any) or try a lot of common Japanese foods, but I was usually just so lost on where to eat and what to order because I didn't know what anything was!

I should also clarify that I think it's completely acceptable to expect Japanese-only menus in Japan and a lot of places did offer English menus when asked, which was really nice, and it's my own fault for not learning some Japanese phrases or downloading a translator on my phone beforehand - I was very unprepared for this trip and only had time to start planning things to do there the day before I left - oops!

That being said, I absolutely loved Japan - including the sights, (especially) the people, and even the food!  Here are some of the things I ate while I was there (and I will try to be brief in my descriptions, which are below each picture):

vegetarian plane food

If I can start with the plane ride over, I just wanted to show this meal my sister and I received on Air Canada (economy) because we requested vegetarian meals.  We got spiced sweet potatoes with veggies on quinoa, a bean salad, a whole wheat bun, and a vegan cookie.  I was so impressed that a plane meal could be healthy!

Thai meal

Our first night in Tokyo, we arrived late, took forever finding our hotel because there are no street signs anywhere, and by the time we were ready to go find food, we were starving!  The first night in a new country is always a little overwhelming, and when all the signs in the area were in Japanese (and my sister is vegetarian so needs to be pretty picky), we had a hard time finding somewhere to eat.  We really wanted to get Japanese food on our first night but eventually our stomachs took over and we gave up and ate at a nearby Thai restaurant (that had English menus).  Not complaining because my meal was pretty good!

local udon noodles

I had a more authentic meal the second day, when I ordered a bowl of local udon noodles with vegetables.  Udon noodles are super thick and chewy, which I love, and it was even better to be able to try them fresh!

lavender, green tea, and vanilla ice cream

There are a lot of different ice cream flavours in Japan, and it was HOT there all the time (with the humidex it was always above 40C (104F) every day in Tokyo), so I was happy to treat myself!  Pictured above are three flavours: vanilla, peach, and lavender - yum!


Our second night we were more determined to try Japanese food, and after searching for a long time we finally walked up the stairs into a restaurant that the host tried to call us into (which is common there), but even though he had assured us outside that they have lots of vegetarian meals, once we got inside (to a very smoky, crowded room), the English menu they brought us revealed no vegetarian food so we left (I was kind of glad to leave all the smoke).  Next door there was a lovely looking Neopolitan-style pizza place so we gave in and got pizza.  And it was amazing!

veggie burger

On our third day, we actually planned ahead and sought out a vegetarian restaurant to find.  There are very few of them in Tokyo, but Hanada Rosso in Shibuya got great reviews and we were determined to find it (though trying to find a place you know the address of is still quite a task in Tokyo!!).  We finally found it and were so happy to eat in a clean and bright restaurant with friendly staff.  I ordered the veggie burger which they say is their most popular item, and it was definitely one of the yummiest veggie burgers I've had!


Most of the beer served at restaurants seemed to be lager-style.  I'm not usually a fan of lagers, but on super hot days, I was willing to drink anything!

beer garden

Nevertheless, I was very happy when we stumbled across a rooftop "beer forest" that was happening during the summer.  The patio had water misting out, peaceful music playing, and beer choices other than lager (produced by Sankt Gallen Brewery) - I was delighted to spend an hour resting up there!

(UPDATE: I have since typed 'craft beer in Tokyo' into Google and found tons of amazing bars that serve Japanese and American craft beers - some I'm pretty sure I would have walked right by too - why I never thought to search for this earlier is beyond me!  Also, please see my point at the very end of this post about the importance of planning ahead!)

hello kitty ice cream sandwich

When we visited Harajuku (an area popular with teenagers), I couldn't resist getting a Hello Kitty ice cream sandwich - so cute!

avocado cream cheese chips

There were lots of interesting snacks available in Tokyo, the above being one I thought sounded the best (though didn't try as I was trying not to eat too many unhealthy things there).  I think they need to bring avocado flavour to Canada!

reception meal

The night of the conference opening reception, I finally tried my first sushi!  Including what I believe is called inari sushi - sushi rice wrapped in tofu skin (the pouch looking thing in the picture) - surprisingly tasty!

conference lunch

I was much less fond of the conference lunches, which were like a bento box full of mystery items.  I have a hard time dealing with mushy textures and mystery meats, so I left a lot of this behind (I know, I'm terrible!)

conference lunch

Day 2's lunch was better.  I didn't eat the chicken (again I'm picky and don't eat chicken with skin on or bones in), shrimp, or the mystery mushy items in the lower left corner (except the veggies), but the salmon, seaweed, fish ball, and rice were all quite tasty!

noodles with salad

We were staying in Makuhari, which is a conference area full of food courts.  The first night I had to go find dinner, I saw the sign above (none of the restaurants in the building we went to had English translations) and thought the bowl looked delicious - usually anything with noodles, veggies, and an egg on top is a win for me.  I was a little surprised when I received my order and discovered it was a bowl of cool noodles in cold broth, with a ceasar salad on top.  A little strange but I still enjoyed most of it!


For a group dinner during the conference, we went back into Tokyo (Shibuya) for a real dinner instead of food court meals.  I was so happy to get fresh vegetables in an amazing salad!


My main course was risotto with koutake mushrooms, which are apparently a rare wild Japanese mushroom.  This was probably my favourite thing I ate on the whole trip!


And since I still wasn't quite full, I ordered dessert - a mango and mascarpone mousse with sorbet and tropical fruit - so good!!

mango ice

We went to a professional baseball game one night because baseball's a big deal in Japan (and the fans are crazy - I loved it!) so my dinner that night consisted of potatoes and mango shaved ice.  Not the most nutritious meal but I loved the mango dessert!  I also loved that you can get things like sushi and noodles at a baseball game :)

lock up shibuya
One of the many things I loved about Tokyo was its themed restaurants - you can find a themed restaurant for almost anything - Alcatraz, ninjas, vampires, opera, princesses, etc - and as soon as you walk in the door (or step off the elevator), you're transported into a different place where the decor, servers, food, and drinks all match the theme. 

The first one we went to was called Lock Up, where you walk through a mini haunted house, are greeted by a prison guard who handcuffs one guest and leads you all to your cell, where you can eat and drink items that are haunted house/prison/mad scientist-themed.  A little creepy but so fun!

alice in wonderland restaurant

The second one we went to was a lot happier - Alice in Wonderland!  I loved everything about it, including the cards and teacups on the ceiling, the storybook pages lining the hallway, and the Alice and mad hatter dressed servers!

alice in wonderland restaurant

Even the menus (which were full of Alice-themed items) were so interactive and fun!

bread at alice in wonderland

The appetizer they brought out for the table was designed after the "Eat Me" cake Alice eats that makes her grow.  A fun touch! (and that bowl of what we thought was butter was actually some sort of melted cheese - mmmm)

appetizer at alice in wonderland

I ordered the appetizer above, which was some sort of jam served with tortilla crackers designed like playing cards - I loved it!

main course at alice in wonderland

And for my main course I ordered spaghetti that was designed after the cheshire cat - awesome!  I definitely recommend going here if you're ever in Tokyo!

airport meal on way home

Another one of my favourite Japanese meals was actually in an airport restaurant on the way home.  I had a bowl of noodles (I gave the shrimp away to one of my fellow diners) with a sesame-soy tasting sauce I poured over them, along with a bowl of rice topped with a sort of tuna tartare (and other goodies).  It was probably one of my more authentic meals I ate there and I loved it!

plastic food display

One of the things I liked about restaurants in Japan (and other countries have this as well) is that many of them have plastic food displays outside the restaurant representing the menu items they have available.  Makes it a little easier to choose a restaurant when you can't read the menu!


I also loved how many different smoothies and cold drinks were available in coffee shops there. I tried to get as many matcha drinks as I could!

panda treat

The cutest thing I ate there was definitely this panda dessert filled with what I believe was bean paste.  It was way too sweet for me so I couldn't eat it all, but I loved how adorable it was!

kit kat

One of the souvenirs I brought back to try was this green tea kit kat bar.  The green tea flavour was much milder than anything else I tried there, but I liked this a lot better than regular chocolate (which I'm not a fan of)!
handmade bowls and plates
The only other souvenir I brought back for myself was the bowl pictured in the top right corner above - I think it's so pretty!  I bought it from a little stall near the Tsukiji fish market that was selling lots of gorgeous (and I assume handmade) bowls, plates, and glasses, all for great prices too.  I picked up some souvenirs for my family and I wish I could have bought SO many more items there but I was worried about them breaking on the way back.  They were all so beautiful though!

I should end this now and thank those of you who are still reading!  Overall I loved Tokyo, even though I wasn't too adventurous with the food - and would love to go back again one day!  And if you still feel like reading more, you can check out my sister's post on what she ate during our trip!

Oh and if you're ever planning on going to Tokyo, can I offer one piece of advice?  Plan, plan, plan beforehand!  You can't just walk down the street there and expect to see everything there is to see (plus you will probably get lost - streets are confusing there).  There are so many buried treasures and adventures in Tokyo that can only be found if you've done your research ahead of time (and usually by Googling specific things you're looking for - i.e. not just 'things to do in Tokyo' but 'cat cafes in Shinjuku' or 'themed restaurants in Shibuya', etc.) and figured out exactly how to find the place you want to go to (usually it will be on some top floor of a building that you would never know of otherwise).  I'm kicking myself for all the things I've read about to do or eat in Tokyo that I didn't look up until I got home (e.g. Time Out Tokyo has tons of articles and lists of things to do in Tokyo that I really wish I knew about beforehand)!  I'm still happy with what I saw and extremely lucky to have even had the chance to go, but if I ever went again I would definitely be more prepared!

August 13, 2013

Ponzu Glazed Salmon with Miso Slaw

Ponzu Glazed Salmon with Miso Slaw

I leave for a conference in Japan tomorrow, and as with any trip, the most important thing I’ve researched beforehand (I haven’t done much preparation for this trip) is what the food will be like!   I don’t have a lot of experience with Japanese food outside of sushi, and even the sushi rolls I normally choose are more like Western versions of sushi (yes I like California rolls, sorry sushi purists!).  So I decided to buy a few Japanese ingredients I haven’t tried before – specifically, miso and ponzu sauce - and use them in a dish before I left, and this is what I came up with!

I’ve always wanted to try miso (a thick, salty soy paste), but whenever I see it I talk myself out of it because it’s kind of expensive and I’m never sure what to do with it.  I’d also never tried ponzu, but from the description – like a citrusy soy sauce – I knew I’d like it.  I considered using them in some sort of soba noodle salad, but I’ve eaten lots of soba noodles before (I love them!), so I decided to go with something a little different and use the ponzu as a marinade and glaze for salmon, and the miso in a dressing for a simple slaw on the side.

Ponzu Glazed Salmon with Miso Slaw

Because I’ve been pretty busy the last few days, I tried to keep things as simple as possible, making an easy 2-ingredient ponzu and ginger marinade for the salmon along with a 3-ingredient glaze of ponzu along with rice vinegar and orange juice to lighten it up.  For the slaw, I cheated and used a storebought bag of coleslaw mix (but feel free to make your own), and then played around with a dressing until I reached a combination of flavours - trying to balance out the salty miso with rice vinegar for acidity, honey for sweetness, and some fresh orange juice to lighten it up - that I liked. 

The whole dish didn’t take long to prepare and I ended up loving it so much!  The ponzu and orange juice glaze gave the salmon such a great flavour that was similar to soy sauce but not quite as rich and salty, and the marinade made the salmon so tender.  The slaw was also really flavourful, though perhaps almost a little too similar to the taste of the salmon for them to be served together with no other side dish to cleanse the palate.  Next time I think I’d either add in another simple side like mashed potatoes (even though that’s not Japanese at all, but then the salmon and slaw might not really be either!), or serve the ponzu salmon alongside a brighter and lighter orange slaw like this one. 

Nevertheless, I still loved both components, and they were a great way to get me looking forward to trying some real Japanese food soon!  I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures of anything I try so I can share it when I get back!

And if you have any suggestions on things to eat or look for there, feel free to share!  Tips on vegetarian restaurants/food would be especially welcome for my sister who will be traveling with me!

Ponzu Glazed Salmon with Miso Slaw

Ponzu Glazed Salmon with Miso Slaw

Loosely guided by a recipe from Bon Appetit

Serves 2

For the Salmon:
2 fresh salmon fillets (about 3-4 ounces each)
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

For the Ponzu Glaze:
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

For the Miso Slaw:
3 cups prepared coleslaw mix (or make your own using cabbage, carrots, red pepper, cucumber)
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ponzu sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger


Add salmon fillets, 2 tablespoons ponzu, and 1 teaspoon grated ginger to a ziplock bag.  Seal and rub the sauce around to make sure salmon is coated, then place in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425°F.

Meanwhile, prepare miso slaw.  Add miso, water, orange juice, sesame oil, ponzu, rice vinegar, and ginger to a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Taste and adjust any amounts to your liking.  Add coleslaw and toss to coat.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once salmon has marinated and oven is ready, transfer salmon to a foil-lined baking sheet (skin side down, if skin is attached), and roast for 10-14 minutes, until tender.  Meanwhile, prepare the ponzu glaze by adding the 2 tablespoons ponzu, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and let simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced by about half (about 5-7 minutes).  Brush on cooked salmon.  Serve salmon alongside slaw.

*Note: You might want to add in another more plain side dish (like a carb) to balance out the flavours.

August 09, 2013

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, & Feta

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

It's been another stressful week with my schoolwork not going at all how I want it to, and with the summer rapidly flying by, my boyfriend and I decided we needed to take a little road trip this week to get away and clear our minds (and enjoy the summer!).  So we took a short overnight trip across the border to Michigan, where we did some shopping and exploring and later went out for dinner and a few drinks.  We both love Michigan craft beer so it was nice to be able to enjoy some of it on tap for a change!

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

Of course, after overindulging in beer and some not-so-healthy food, we both wanted something light and nutritious for dinner the day we returned.  And because all I could think about was stuffing my face with a bowl full of vegetables, it didn't take long for me to run over to the market and grab everything I needed for a big fresh summer salad.  It hit the spot perfectly!

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

This salad celebrates fresh summer produce and includes pretty much all of my favourite things to eat.  I started with a bed of romaine and spinach as the base, which I topped with sliced chicken breast, a mix of local cherry and grape tomatoes, fresh corn, crisp cucumber, creamy cubes of ripe avocado, and a bunch of crumbled feta.  And because I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, I tossed it all in a storebought light balsamic vinaigrette.

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

I feel a little silly posting this salad because it really doesn't require a recipe - I didn't measure any of the ingredients and just threw everything in the bowl in what looked like good proportions to me.  But we both loved the combination of ingredients in this salad so much that I had to share it with you guys!

I wrote out a rough guide to what I did anyway, but really you can just use any amounts you like - and the more the better!

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

I also feel a little silly because last summer I shared this summertime chickpea chopped salad (which I also loved) and it's super similar to this one, but I can't help it, I love summer salads!  And fresh veggies like tomatoes and corn won't taste this good for much longer, so it's best to eat as much of them as you can while they're around - enjoy!

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber, & Feta

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Feta, Tomato, Cucumber & Avocado

Serves 2-3 as a main course


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or shredded
2 ears of fresh corn
Desired amount of greens – I used about 6 large romaine leaves plus 4 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
Half to one English cucumber, peeled if desired, and chopped
Desired amount of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved – I used about half a pint
Crumbled feta cheese – adjust amount to your own liking – I like lots!
Salad dressing – I used a storebought light balsamic vinaigrette, but any vinaigrette or light Italian, ranch, or yogurt dressing would work


Cook corn however you like to eat it – i.e. roasted, grilled, or boiled.  I cooked mine in a large pot of boiling water for 6 minutes.  Once cooled slightly, use a large knife to slice off the corn kernels (a bundt pan works well for this).  I cooked my chicken breasts on the stovetop at the same time as the corn.  Meanwhile, prepare all other salad ingredients.  Toss everything together in a large bowl to combine and adjust any ingredient amounts according to your own liking.  Toss with just enough dressing to coat (I added my dressing to individual servings).  Enjoy!

August 06, 2013

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill & Feta

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill & Feta

As I mentioned in my recap of things I made and did in July, I was recently reminded of how much I love lentil salads when I tried a recipe from My New Roots.  Not only are they easy to make and highly adaptable to different flavours and ingredients, but they usually make a lot of leftovers that are great for packing filling lunches, plus they’re super healthy – lentils are low in fat and really high in protein and fiber.

So as soon as I finished all the leftovers from the last lentil salad I tried (and there were a lot of leftovers!) I immediately made a new one, and I’m going to try to keep this up as much as possible, considering I now have three giant bags of lentils in my cupboard to use up!  

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill & Feta

While the last lentil salad I tried was heavily spiced, this time I wanted something more bright and summery.  I knew I wanted to use lemon and dill, so when I came across a recipe for a lemony lentil salad with dill and feta from Eating Well I knew I was on the right track.  Of course, I can never seem to leave a recipe alone, so I made a few changes, starting with using dry lentils instead of canned lentils (canned are still fine, but if you’re concerned about sodium then it’s best to use dry - I use them because they're cheaper and easy to cook).  I also used shallot instead of red onion, added a clove of garlic, used more cucumber and replaced the red pepper with cherry tomatoes, and for the dressing I added a bit of honey for sweetness, reduced the lemon juice (it’s still very lemony!) and reduced the olive oil from 1/3 cup down to 2 tablespoons, which was plenty of oil for me.

I loved the balance of the lemony dressing with the salty feta, along with the bright flavour of dill and the crunch of summer veggies.  I threw a handful of fresh arugula into each serving to make it more salad-like and also cut the strong lemon flavour down to just the right amount (so I recommend this step!)

I hope you guys love lentils as much as I do, and if you think you don’t, perhaps it’s time to give them another try!

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill & Feta

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill & Feta

Adapted from Eating Well

Makes 4-6 servings


1-1/4 cups dry brown or green lentils
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped grape or cherry tomatoes
3/4 to 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Arugula for serving


Combine lentils with about 3.5 cups of water (enough to cover them by a couple of inches) in a medium or large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender (but not mushy!).  Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water to cool.

While lentils are cooking, prepare dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, dill, shallot, garlic, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Slowly add the olive oil until combined. 

Toss cooled lentils with the dressing.  Mix in the cucumber, tomatoes, and desired amount of feta and toss to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.  Serve in bowls with a big handful of arugula added to each, if desired.

August 01, 2013

Monthly Recap - July 2013

I've been meaning to start a monthly recap post for a while now - a post where I can talk about recipes I've tried from other blogs and loved (or recipes that have failed), food or drinks I'm loving lately, and things I've done in real life that you guys might like hearing about.  A lot of bloggers do this type of thing weekly and I love reading them, but I didn't think I have an exciting enough life to post that often, so a one-time end-of-the-month post seemed more appropriate.  So I'm testing this out with a July in review post today; hopefully you enjoy it!

Because this is a food blog first and foremost, let's start with a few recipes I've tried this month and loved:

lentil salad

I shared this on my Facebook page earlier so you might have already seen it, but this was a lentil salad from My New Roots that my friend recommended as the best lentil salad ever.  It  has capers, currants, red onion (I used shallots), and an Indian-spiced dressing that I loved, along with a few other mix-ins that are customizable (I used cucumber, walnuts, feta, and mixed greens).  I may have to agree that this might be the best lentil salad ever - so yummy!

fish tacos

Another meal I really enjoyed was these chipotle fish tacos with a mango avocado salsa from Half Baked Harvest.  I used tilapia instead of mahi mahi, simplified the fish seasoning to just chipotle powder and paprika, and used Franks chile lime hot sauce instead of chipotle sauce in the salsa, and they were delicious (and spicy)!

strawberry buttermilk cake

I'd been wanting to try this strawberry buttermilk cake from Gourmet (that has been seen all over blogs) for a while and finally tried it this month. It's really easy to make and you can use whatever berries you want, making it the perfect light summer dessert!

phd cookies

A couple of friends celebrated successfully defending their PhD theses this month, so my sister and I decided to make them some PhD cookies in our school colours (black & gold).  Because one of them is vegan, we decided to make vegan sugar cookies using a recipe from Yummy Mummy Kitchen for the best sugar cookies, which were pretty good!  We didn't have letter-shaped cookie cutters so we just cut out the letters "PhD" by hand and decorated them with sprinkles and icing.  I didn't think to take a picture until the last minute so this pic is terrible, but we loved how they turned out!

Moving on to food I enjoyed last month that others made...

food at beertown

A Beertown restaurant recently opened in London (Ontario) so my boyfriend and I went to check it out. The beer selection is good for people looking to try something beyond the standard macro beers, but not as great for people who are accustomed to craft beers; nevertheless, we enjoyed some tasty beers and food.  I had the black bean and quinoa veggie burger which was one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had!

sweet lemon bakery
Sweet Lemon Bakery is a vegan, gluten-free, organic bakery in London that I love to pop into for a healthy treat.  We recently tried the cinnamon bun and strawberry shortcake which were both delicious!

breakfast at Frans

On a trip to Toronto last weekend, we went to Fran's restaurant for breakfast.  I enjoyed a salsa & cheddar omelette and Ryan got the banana pancakes, which I immediately became extremely jealous of - they were amazing!

The reason we were in Toronto was to attend the Toronto Beer Festival..

toronto beer festival

We are big beer lovers but this was our first time at the annual event, which offers over 200 beers from 60 brewers, along with tasty food and entertainment (pictured above is the Spin Doctors).  Needless to say, I didn't get to try nearly as many beers as I wanted to, but they were all good and we had a blast!

I also attended the Kitchener craft beer & rib fest this month..

kitchener craft beer&rib fest

I don't eat ribs so I didn't spend much time on the food side, but the beer was good (I think my favourite new try there was Lake of Bays summer ale).

storm damage

That same weekend there was a big storm that ripped through the region and caused quite a bit of damage and power outages. It was so sad to see so many fallen old trees, and pretty crazy that wind has the ability to rip full grown trees out at the roots.

classic car show

I did attend a non-beer related festival this month too!  There was a classic car day where tons of old cars are on display in the park, then go on a parade downtown, then park on the sides of the closed-off road for people to wander around and take a look.  I don't know anything about cars but I love watching some of the classic ones go by - makes me feel like I'm in the 50s!

berry picking

Another highlight of my month was going blueberry and cherry picking with my family.  I haven't gone berry picking since I was young so it was a fun experience!

Rock Glen Falls

We also stopped by Rock Glen Conservation Area where there are trails, fossils, and this beautiful waterfall.


I almost forgot that I started off the month up by Lake Superior in Northern Ontario, where I got to watch a fireworks show on the beach for Canada Day - so amazing!

And on that note I think I'll end this post before it gets ridiculously long.  I can't believe we're into August already but I'm hoping it's even better than the last month!

How were your Julys?  Anyone have exciting plans for the last month of summer?

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