Category Archives: snacks

Back to the food…

Sorry that I didn't get to update much this summer! Thanks for the support, I'm back and hope to catch up on some of the things from the summer. I'm currently applying for medical school while doing a masters program, so things will be super hectic this year, but I'll try my best to stay on top of my Vox :)

Anyway, to get started, here are some of the meals I made over the summer:

Sometime last year my boyfriend and I discovered the joys of making dinner with those skillet meal-in-a-box type things like Tuna Helper. We particularly like the tuna helper because it only requires canned tuna, whereas we never have any ground beef sitting around for the hamburger helpers. The tuna helpers come with dried pasta in the box, along with a packet of flavor powder, which usually reminds me of the smell of sour cream and onion chips. Sometimes there are little bits of dehydrated broccoli in the powder. When we cook the tuna helpers, we like to add to it by cutting in fresh veggies that we have on hand and adding extra pasta and tuna to make the food last a few meals. In the photo above we added red peppers, broccoli, and onions as vegetables. I actually enjoy the flavor of the meal even though we've added so much stuff that the original flavor of the flavor powder is diluted, I guess the intended flavor must be stronger than I would like.  Lately we've experimented by adding some canned salmon in place of the canned tuna, and though it sounds good, I actually prefer the tuna, which has a much stronger flavor than the salmon.

I signed up for a free promotion from Larabars (a brand of organic energy/snack bars made with natural raw ingredients) where they sent me 4 different full-sized Larabars as a sampler. The Larabars are mostly made of dates and nuts. They're moist, filling, and surprisingly delicious! I encourage you to try out a Larabar next time you are at the market. They have tons of different flavors. Larabars also makes a different bar called Jocolat, which uses organic cocoa powder to make a chocolate-flavored bar that still uses dates and nuts to provide the body. I really like the Jocolat bars, which you can see above looks pretty yummy. The cocoa flavor was nice, but it isn't for you if you are craving creamy sugary chocolate. The chocolate is all in the flavoring, it's somewhat subtle but I think it's nice for mature palettes. Plus, it doesn't get sickeningly sweet after a while, which I thought was good since I was eating it for breakfast. Yum.

My boyfriend first introduced me to the delicious lazy person's meal option called Shake 'n Bake. It's a pre-prepared mixture of seasonings and bread crumbs that you coat chicken or pork with before baking. After it's done baking the chicken becomes wonderfully delicious, with a savory, crunchy coating of bread crumbs. We like to make it with bone-in chicken thighs which are more moist than breast meat and stand up well to baking. We paired the chicken with chicken flavored Rice-a-roni and some stir fried mixed veggies. It's a quick and easy dinner that tastes amazingly good! (Oh and sorry for using the same bowl over and over, but I'm a poor college student… I just don't have that many options.)

Remember the last time I went out for Japanese curry? Well I decided to try and make my own Japanese curry at home! It's actually not too hard, especially since you don't make the curry from scratch. There are various brands (S&B is a big one) that sell Japanese curry roux cubes that you dilute to make instance curry sauce. It's super easy, and even Japanese people use the same kind of roux cubes, so you know it's authentic. All I had to do was cook together the meat and vegetables before adding water with the curry cubes to make the curry. I usually add carrots, onions, and potatoes for the vegetables, and I like using pork and beef for the meat. It's different from the curry cutlet because I cook the meat in the curry sauce and there are no crunchy coatings, but it tastes great all the same and is probably much better for you :) In the curry above I also added Chinese eggplant because I had some extra lying around that I need to get rid of, but I would recommend not adding it as eggplant tends to have a pretty strong flavor. My curry sauce tends to be a bit thicker and starchier than the restaurant curry, since they don't use potatoes, but I think the fried egg on top completes the look!

Summer vacation is in full swing!

I'm sorry that my updates seem sporadic lately, it's not intentional, I promise! There's no point in making excuses, because I am pretty much always "busy", but I have been good about taking all the necessary pictures. So without further ado, I present a collection of things I've eaten, seen, or done in the past month since graduation!

Lunch shared with my boyfriend during a lunch break at work. We both work in the same area, just down the street from one another, so when we have time we try to have lunch together. There is a food court nearby that has the popular Japanese chicken teriyaki lunchbox meal, so we occasionally share one. The chef that cooks the chicken is pretty funny, he has this thick accent and says enthusiastic things when he serves the food. He often says "chicken ready! yummy yummy!" and "yummy sauce! yummy sauce!" It's quite amusing hehe. I try not to eat out too much for lunch though, as it is a money sink.

I've been pretty excited about the delicious assortment of exotic fruit available now that it is summer. One of my favorites is mango, especially when it is fully ripe. I'm not very good at slicing one open and avoiding the large fuzzy pit in the center, but when I finally get around to eating the soft sweet flesh it is an amazing flavor. I also like gnawing on the flesh surrounding the pit at the end, but if I do that then I always have to floss because the fuzzy fibers always get stuck in my teeth. I wish I had a blender in my dorm, because I would definitely be making my own mango smoothies. The ones I've eaten are incredibly ripe and sweet, so I imagine the smoothie would be quite flavorful.

These little babies are what most of my breakfasts consist of this summer. I tend to always wake up too late to eat anything substantial before heading off to work, so these bars are perfect for my always on-the-go schedule. The one pictured above is trail mix flavored, and the others I've bought are honey almond flax, and peanut peanut butter, all of which are fantastic. These are so good for you, and they fill me up for most of the morning too, unlike other cereal bars (ahem, Special K).

Okay, this is one of my guilty pleasures in terms of takeout foods while at MIT. Ankara Cafe was first introduced to me because all the students know that it has amazing frozen yogurt with endless varieties because of their long list of blended mix-ins (see below). One of my favorite dinner items from Ankara happens to be the MIT triple decker, which is a 3-bread-slice sandwich with pastrami, roast beef, smoked turkey, swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. I know, it sounds terrible for you, and I assure you that I am well aware it is. But it tastes amazing, always hitting the right spot after a long day. I usually can only eat half of it at a time (or sometimes I will eat the whole thing and feel too stuffed afterwards), but I find that it will taste even better after I microwave the leftover half. Yum!

So this is the well-known Ankara frozen yogurt with mix-ins. They have a list of over 50 different mix-in options, and I've tried many of them in various combinations, still yet to decide on a favorite. This particular yogurt today happened to be vanilla, with white chocolate and brownie mix-ins. The white chocolate chunks are nice, but the brownie mix-in was not quite what I expected. I was imagining small chewy chunks of brownie, but instead it was more like brownie crumbs (see the general light brown color of the yogurt and the small brown specks? that's the brownie…). Still though, the flavor was quite good. A great dessert to follow any takeout items from Ankara :)

Another lunch option at work is the sushi bar in MIT's Stata center across the street. They make boxed sushi rolls that I can just pick up to go. I usually like to get their salmon avocado roll, which has raw salmon in it, but I also really like their grilled salmon roll, whose texture and flavor is completely different from that of raw salmon. They break up the grilled salmon into small bits so that it's easy to chew, which I appreciate.

I sometimes get a soup to go with my sushi, but the cream of spinach soup overpowered the sushi quite a bit. It was very salty and the spinach flavor was strong, probably because it was frozen spinach instead of fresh. I only had a third of this soup before I had had enough. Probably not a bad soup if you were to have it alone or with a roll for lunch.

Greg and I made Chinese style lettuce wraps one day, using iceberg lettuce as the wrapping and a stir-fried mix of pork, beef, and onions, along with fried rice with carrots as the filling. It doesn't take a lot of effort to prepare, as the meats need very little marinating and cooking time. To make a lettuce wrap, we smeared some hoisin sauce on the inside of a large leaf of lettuce, then topped it with a scoop of rice, followed by a few pieces of meat and onions, just enough to get meat into each bite and give extra flavor to the rice. The purpose of the meat in the lettuce wraps is to add variety and flavor, not to act as the base of the meal. That is the job of the rice! Overall the wraps were pretty tasty though, and I got a second meal out of it too. It was an easy first meal to make with Greg, as we both were a bit rusty on our cooking and kind of lazy too. We always take several meals to settle into the routine of making dinners over the summer, as it is rather inconvenient to cook in my dorm, having to bring everything down into the large single kitchen in the basement.

The Asian food truck that I adore, Goosebeary's, sells these vegetarian summer rolls for lunch. I like to get them occasionally when I want a small lunch in anticipation of a big dinner. The rolls cost $1.50 each, and are usually sold in triples, along with a small container of peanut dipping sauce that I like. The rolls themselves are similar to the ones I previously described from Pho Pasteur, except instead of shrimp and pork, these rolls have tofu, carrots, and shitake mushrooms. The rolls are a refreshing treat for lunch on a hot summer's day, and the peanut sauce enhances the flavors quite well, making this vegetarian roll much less boring than it might look or sound. On the particular day that I bought these rolls, it was towards closing time for the food truck, and I only intended to get two of them. But the lady who was serving me was really nice and charged me $3 total for 3 rolls. I guess they wanted to get rid of their rolls because it was going to go to waste anyway if they couldn't sell them all. Good deal!

I was walking home from work one day and noticed a lot of pretty flowers in full bloom in the garden in front of my dorm. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I had my camera with me, so I decided to take some pictures. I'm a hopeless romantic, something about beautiful flowers conjures up images of love and happiness that is just irresistible to me. Unfortunately I know none of the names of these flowers, but if anyone knows be sure to leave me a comment so I can change the mundane names of these photos :) You know, when I was taking the last picture of the purple flowers, I heard some rustling in the bushes on the ground nearby, and I ignored it, thinking it was just a squirrel. Next thing I know, I see this HUGE rope-like tail swinging around on the ground right in front of my face, and I nearly had a heart attack as I realized it was a giant RAT not 2 feet from me. Its ratty tail (excuse the pun) told me that it had lived a long life of experiences, and that it was probably not nearly as afraid of me as I was of it. Still, to see such a big rat in broad daylight was a surprise that I'd like to not relive heh.

Wednesday, May 23rd

10:00AM On the way to lab
1 Kashi TLC bar in peanut peanut butter. Last day of working in lab for a while. I'm going home for a week!

1:00PM Lab Lounge
1 Promax mini-bar. My lunch today is sad lol.

3:30PM Dorm Room
1/4 of a plain bagel with cream cheese, 1 French cruller, 1 apple.

6:00PM Commuter Rail on the way to see my family!
1 Promax mini-bar. These things really make you thirsty… I think it's the powdery texture of protein bars in general.

8:30PM Home Sweet Home (I'll be here for the next week or so, so until I write otherwise, all these entries will have the location as home)
Leftovers haha. My mom was gone for the night at a conference in Boston, so my Dad and I ate leftovers from whatever she cooked the previous night. To me it's all brand new anyway. I mish-mashed everything onto a plate, and it consisted of white rice, napa with crab meat, Chinese meatloaf, tofu with ground pork and black wood-ear fungus, broccoli, and some steamed salmon. Haha really weird combination and doesn't look that aesthetically pleasing, but it's homecooked and it's food, what else can I ask for? :)

1 strawberry mochi ice cream. These are little Asian treats that have been modified to suit American tastes with an ice cream center. The classic Japanese dessert of mochi is a ball of fresh glutinous rice flour that has been kneeded with water until it becomes a ball of sticky soft dough. It's often filled with red bean paste and enjoyed on special holidays in Japan. Nowadays you can get mochi ice cream at places like Trader Joe's. It's basically like a golf ball-sized ice cream bonbon with a coating of the mochi sticky rice dough, and the inside is just various flavors of ice cream. I particularly like the red bean flavor, but there's also mango, green tea, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. This is the first time I tried a strawberry one (I happened to spot a box in the freezer haha), and I really like it! Heh these are good for dessert portion control :P

Tuesday, May 22nd

11:30AM Dorm Room
Leftover eggplant parm entree while cramming before my final at 1:30pm. Good to be taking an exam on a stomach full of yummy comfort food :)

6:30PM Baker Dining (My last meal here, awww…)
I was hoping that there would be some spectacular dish on my last day at Baker dining, but none of the featured entrees or desserts interested me. So I ended up getting a wrap with roast beef and grilled chicken, along with hummus and roasted vegetables, all wrapped up in a tomato wrap and toasted on a panini grill. I also got a bowl of seafood chowder to go with it. Yum. Baker makes really really good soups. Their seafood chowder was creamy and chock full of seafood. It also had a kick from the paprika that you usually don't taste in other chowders from Legal Seafood for example. But I really think Baker's chowder is every bit as good as a restaurant one, and it went so well with my wrap. Such a relaxing meal after my last final (which went well, I think).

Goodbye Baker dining, I'll miss you… I had so many good meals from there in the 4 years that I lived at Baker Hall, I can't even begin to tell you how many times having such great food in a dining hall downstairs saved me when I had stressful weeks. The staff at Baker are also really nice, and they take the time to make conversation with you when they are serving you. The people don't change too often, so they tend to recognize you and I have gotten so many "benefits" from them when they are serving me (okay, strictly in the food sense).

Jesse is an amazing stir fry cook who literally does 6 stir frys at a time when it gets hectic, and still manages to make everything taste so good. He also makes the soups and a big variety of stir fry sauces each day. Sometimes I'd ask for a sauce he didn't have and he would make it on the spot for me even though it took extra time and effort and he had to open new ingredients. Loretta used to serve food from the featured entrees area, but now she does mostly grill duty, along with Alberto (who I knew as "the Boston Red Sox guy" for the longest time b/c he always wears a Red Sox hat). Alberto always likes to hand out favors even though he could get in trouble, and whenever he saw that I was passing over starchy foods like rice and bread he would put on extra veggies and meat for me so I wouldn't go hungry. There is also Roland the Baker dining head chef, who designs the menu and dishes each night. He was nice enough to make me a wrap even though I went down to dining after they had closed the entrance (I slipped in through the exit area where you leave after you pay), and even offered me food from the leftover entrees that were going to be thrown out after closing time. There was also Perry, who was the cashier this year, and he was always curteous to all of us from the first day he started his job to the last day of the year. He always remembers me and he makes an effort to wish everyone a wonderful night. Once I thought this special dessert was all out and he went into the kitchen to look for more for me. It was just such a friendly atmosphere and I always looked forward to going down there for dinner. I really will miss this place.

10:00PM Baker EOTSB
Tonight was the Dunkin Donuts study break. People were all hovering around the boxes of donuts waiting to swoop down and grab the best kinds, and when they said we could start it was literally a feeding frenzy. I happened to be standing next to the Boston cream donuts when they let us start, so I grabbed one of those before it all disappeared. I also nabbed a French cruller and a butternut donut (yes, I'm greedy at study breaks…). I also poured myself a cup of hazelnut coffee because I was sleepy from not sleeping a lot last night. When I actually got back to the dorm I realized that I wasn't hungry enough to eat all those donuts, so I put them in the fridge and just had my coffee haha. I eventually ate the Boston cream donut later on at night. The details are blurry now that it's been like 5 days :P

Sunday, May 20th

2:00PM Dorm Room
Brunch food from Simmons brunch. Greg was there to make a killing with multiple trips, and he was kind enough to bring me some of the food so I had something to eat for lunch, yay! Okay, admittedly the food is terrible for you, but it tasted so good haha. He brought me 3 slices of spiral ham smeared with honey mustard, with a dill dip on the side, and 3 small squares of freshly baked corn bread. Yes, I overloaded on cancerous nitrates, but the ham was juicy and flavorful with the mustard and dill dip. The corn bread was just amazing too, it had a crunchy top and a moist fluffy interior, and it was not too sweet nor too bland. I think it complemented the ham quite well. It sure complemented my unhealthy lunch quite well anyway :P

6:30PM Baker Dining
I wasn't too hungry, but I ordered a stir fry entree with double veggies to try and compensate for my lunch. It had 2 bowls of assorted vegetables, including onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, red and green bell peppers, napa, water chestnuts, snow pea pods, and scallions (seriously I went all out this time haha). For protein I got tofu, and for starch I asked for rice noodles, all stir fried with chili garlic and oyster sauce. The stir fry cook didn't use quite enough sauce though, so everything was a bit bland (although I suppose I should be thankful for that). While I'm sure the food was insanely healthy, I wasn't actually hungry enough to eat much of it, so I had a few bites before setting it aside for later.

8:30PM Dorm Room
Snuck some bites of Greg's desser tfrom Baker dining: chocolate bomb. Baker occasionally makes warm homemade desserts that you can scoop out as much as you want onto a plate. The chocolate bomb is one of the best desserts, with a chocolatey devil's food cake layer on top and chocolate pudding on the bottom. I'm not sure how exactly they bake it, but they do, and it's a little bit like eating molten chocolate cake, but the pudding isn't overpoweringly sweet like melted chocolate, and the devil's food is light, so the cake overall tastes pretty delicate. Plus Greg topped it off very generously with homemade whipped cream… mmmm. Here's a picture that he took of the dessert:

12:30AM Dorm Room
Some more of my tofu with rice noodles stir fry. I still had 2/3 of the entree left, which I decided to save for lunch tomorrow.

3:00AM Dorm Room
1 sugar-free strawberry jello cup. I could hardly tell it was sugar-free! A pretty healthy snack, considering that it only has 10 calories (!!) I decided to take a picture of it while I was in the middle of eating it, and hey it looks kind of like a rose bloom doesn't it? Sorta?

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