Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin baked goodies are best to have in the fall. There’s something about the orange, textured flavour of a pumpkin that matches the chilly, autumn season so well. Pumpkin muffins are simple to make and a great treat to share with friends. With the combination of milk chocolate chips, they are a sweet, delicious dessert that is hard to resist. Here is how I made mine.

The recipe is inspired by: Barb’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 12 pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. Using a a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin, eggs and water.
  4. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture; beat until well blended.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and mix unit well blended
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Enjoy!

High Park in the Fall

It’s the middle of November in Toronto and the weather outside is a daily guessing game. One day it’s sunny and a tolerable 10 degrees, the next there are flurries and a wind chill leading to a drop to about -3. Whatever the conditions, the last weeks of fall are still inviting enough to stroll through one of Toronto’s loveliest nature escapes – High Park.

High Park in November, Toronto.

High Park, Toronto.

It was Saturday evening that I found myself walking through its leafy paths. Although it was quite chilly, a scarf and a warm coat did the trick to keep warm for 30 minutes or so. The trees were still full of leaves, although more dull and grey compared the vivid colours present only a few weeks ago. There were cyclists and families enjoying the surroundings and we came across a huge adventure playground that was enticing enough for me to explore. The visit was short as it got dark so quickly, but it was worthwhile to walk though the park before winter weather truly hits.

The Remaining Leaves, High Park.

The Remaining Leaves, High Park.

Food | Sushi Moto

Tataki Attack at Sushi Moto. No doubt the best sushi roll in the world (or at least in Toronto!)

Tataki Attack at Sushi Moto. No doubt the best sushi roll in the world (i.e., Toronto’s sushi world).

I have frequented Sushi Moto many times and there is no occasion in which I’ve been left disappointed. The restaurant is comfortably situated by Sheppard-Yonge Station and there are several nearby parking spots, making it easily accessible whether you are driving or subwaying over.

Last night, myself and a few friends visited Sushi Moto for dinner. Our waitress was kind and came by often to check up on us. The sushi rolls were delicious. We ordered The Beautiful, Crazy Roll, and (my personal favourite), Tataki Attack! The quality of the sushi was impeccable. The rolls are about $10-15 for 8-10 pieces. The price is towards the medium range, but it is most definitely worth it. The tables and seating are very comfortable, with both regular tables and spacey booths available. There is a wide bar and the place is great to catch a basketball or hockey game with several flatscreen TVs broadcasting sport games live .

If you are looking for quality sushi in Toronto, this is the place to go.

PS: Happy Halloween! :-)

Traveling Home

Last Day in Maastricht

On the train ride to Schiphol.

It feels surreal that I’m already on my way back to Toronto.

Goodbye Dutch life, and European life for that matter. Goodbye Maastricht. I don’t know when I’ll see you again.

I want to travel with a silent mind. I may read a book but I will not do any work. Maybe I will watch a good movie on the plane. If it’s not worth it I will simply sit in peace.

Solitude is what I will miss most. Living alone gave me freedom and solitude. Cooking for myself, planning my days,making the most of a long morning routine. The rolled oats I cooked on the tiny stove, the roasted carrots I baked in the oven, reaching the outlet over the sink as if it is totally normal. Having a big bed all to myself with a huge window. I’d open the blinds in the morning and light would come flooding down. The bike rides to campus even when the gear broke and I had to bike like a hamster to get anywhere. The longest runs I’ve ever had to nearby villages, the ones up St. Pietersburg with a beautiful view of the city. Shopping for groceries, shopping at the farmers market for fresh veggies and fruit. Carefully browsing for interesting, feasible recipes I could make considering the kitchen’s limitations. Seeing the same wonderful classmates day after day and learning material that I’m interested in.

This all is what I will miss most.

Lemon-Baked Chicken with Mushrooms & Potatoes

Lemon-Baked Chicken with Mushrooms and Potatoes

It’s almost the end of October, yet the temperature is warm enough for a light jacket. The sun’s rays were blasting into Maastricht today, a sunny calm after the stormy weather last night. The orchids below were blooming beautifully on the windy terrace of a Japanese restaurant by the Maas River. The sunny weather had me thinking of something citrusy I could make for lunch & lemon chicken quickly came to mind.

This is a simple recipe that takes minimal time apart from waiting around while the chicken bakes in the oven. The outcome is delicious!

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 a lemon (or more, depending on how lemony you like your chicken!)
  • 300 g mushrooms
  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 205°C. Brush olive oil over chicken and spring with salt and pepper.
  2. Place chicken on a baking dish covered with tin foil.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken and cut 4 slices to place on each piece.
  4. Chicken should take approximately 30-40 minutes to bake.
  5. In the meantime, slice up mushrooms and potatoes. Leave the skin of the potatoes on, it provides a lot of nutrients!
  6. Let olive oil warm up on a large skillet. Place potatoes first and let cook for about 6 minutes.
  7. Add mushrooms and stir for another 6 minutes until mushrooms darken.
  8. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  9. Place potatoes & mushrooms next to lemony chicken and enjoy!
Orchids in the Fall

Orchids enjoying the warm fall weather

 

Maastricht Jazz Fest at Café de Belsj

Maastricht’s annual Jazz Fest took place two weeks ago, with bands and artists playing in cafés and bars throughout the city. In the centre, the sounds of guitar strums , saxophone jives, and beautiful voices were spilling out of corner alleys and pubs. The weather was a perfect high of 17 with a light breeze and a clear sky.

It was a pleasantly musical walk to Café de Belsj where I met a few friends to listen to the band Bernie and the Amazing 20 Fingers. The bar was full to the brim and we were very likely the youngest people there. The band played several of their own songs along with a set of oldies. The guitarist was incredible and I was completely in awe while watching his solos. They had great charisma & the audience loved them!

Bernie and the Amazing 20 Fingers

Bernie and the Amazing 20 Fingers

Café de Belsj is a unique mix of grungy, yet classy. An air of dark humour bestows the place with humorous and obscene illustrations placed next to conservative portraits from the 1800s. It’s a great place to have a drink and listen to good music.

Enjoy your evening with one of their songs!

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Eckhart Tolle | Repetitive Thoughts

Yesterday afternoon I stumbled across a documentary featuring Eckhart Tolle. I read his book ‘A New Earth‘ almost 4 years ago while completing my exchange in Maastricht. This book had a huge impact on me — more than any other book I’ve read. It changed the way I viewed both myself and my surroundings. It brought me a new sense of awareness and it is something I’ve carried through over the years in one form or another.

Sun-coloured leaves.

Sun-coloured leaves.

It was while watching this clip that I came to the realization that I have begun to neglect an appreciation for an empty mind. Eckhart Tolle explains that thoughts should be viewed as passing objects of our awareness. Thoughts are transient, they come and go, and all too often we focus in on them and let them repeat over and over. That was what struck me most — that our thoughts are undeniably repetitive. Tolle asks — that thought you just had, have you had it before? Very very often, the answer is yes. Why do we let our minds recycle the same thoughts and let them eat us up as we dwell on them over and over again?

After watching this clip I noticed the repetition of my thoughts. I let each recycled thought pass me by and this brought upon some new kind of clarity.

Clear skies in Maastricht.

Clear skies in Maastricht.

I highly recommend A New Earth and The Power of Now to anyone. There is also a film in the making featuring Eckhart Tolle called Milton’s Secret. They are obtaining funding for the production of their film here: indiegogo.

The photos above were taken yesterday during my run around the city. It was such a beautiful day!

Have a great Saturday. :)