Banana Cacao Oatmeal Cups Muffins

Many times, I find store-bought baked goods overly sweet for my taste buds (also because I don't have a sweet tooth). Typically, muffins and cookies from big-box stores are laden with processed ingredients we all want to avoid e.g. sugar, corn syrup, fructose. Even if natural and healthy bakes can now be found in specialty artisan bakeries, the bakes usually do not come cheap. $4 for a healthy muffin? Two such healthy muffins can be equivalent to a take-out meal! I will not splurge on baked goods unless there is a reason or occasion to do so.

Now, all fingers pointing towards - making (baking) my own!

It is still banana-based sweetened muffins today, with the success of these Bran Buckswheat Banana Muffins. Banana, because it is a convenient choice as we always stock up on bananas at home.  You can also use apple puree or apple sauce) or sometimes dried fruits (e.g. raisins, dates) as natural sweeteners instead of using sugar or syrup.

The Banana Cacao Oat Muffins/Oatmeal Cups today are basic yet classic, just so because I love dark bitter chocolate (so much so that 85% dark works way much better on me than 72%). Instead of melting pieces of dark chocolate, I am going to use 100% raw cacao powder to up the "chocolatey" flavor in this recipe.

Salmon, Celery, Mountain Yam Congee Rice Porridge

It was a dark rainy day and that called for a bowl of warm congee/ rice porridge, soupy comfort yet able to fill us up.

This bowl of congee/ rice porridge is flavorful with salmon, complemented by soft-tender mountain yam and crisp-tender celery. It is not just a mass of sticky soft gruel but one which offers textures and layered flavors. The mixture and blend of grains also helps in that perfect congee consistency.

Braised Soy Sauce Eggs and Tofu

There is not much story behind the whys and whats of this Braised Soy-Sauce Eggs and Tofu vegetarian dish. Call it a sudden urge.

Whenever we hear of braised duck or braised pork (usually pork trotters), it sounds like a whole day of work that seems intimidating to some (including me). Today, however, this recipe is kept basic and simple with eggs and tofu.

I've also included tips and tricks on how to breeze through this recipe.

Tip #1: When making braised tofu, most recipes call for first, deep-frying or pan-frying the tofu to get it golden brown; however this recipe lean towards being fuss-free, so oven-roasted tofu it shall be (use this Roasted Tofu recipe without using the marinade). Roasting imparts a "toasty" smoky flavor and aroma to tofu, similar to how frying does to the tofu.

In addition, when fried or roasted , the tofu gets more chewy and firm. I am not so definite about frying but roasting also dries out the tofu and it helps the tofu to absorb more of the braising liquid making tofu more flavorful.