Thursday, December 30, 2010

After Christmas Dinner

Every year during Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays season, we would be invited to friend's house for a turkey dinner.  It was a pleasantly suprised when we were invited to our friend's house for a after Christmas dinner last week.  Here' s look at the fantastic dinner we had on that evening.

For appetizer, this delicious shrimps were sauteed quickly with garlic, cooking wine and sweet soy sauce.

After consulted with a culinary student, this turkey had been brined with salt overnight. It was also massaged with butter and herbs underneath the skin.  The result was the breast meat was  moist and the skin was chrunchy.


This minestrone soup was also a recipe given by the culinary student.  It was made from both beef and chicken broth, plus tomatoes paste and other vegetables.
These green beans were fried with garlic and oil.

With some mixture of honey and lime, this salad was so refreshing. 

There were also sweet potatoes and French bread on the side. 

I brought the cheesecake. The rasberry sauce was homemade by the hostess.

I also brought this box of persimmon cookies.  It was a gift from my friend.  It tasted like oatmeal cookies.

My other friend bought this fruit basket from the Edible store.  I love the banana and strawberries with were dipped with white and dark chocolate.

Our friends also made us a cup of gourmet coffe and a pot of high graded tea.  She also made some sweet soup for us before we left for the evening.  That was a fun and satisfying dinner. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful holidays as we did.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Decorations at Home

This year my younger daughter demanded that she be the only one to bring out all the Christmas decorations and she would decorate everything herself.  I was not allowed to touch any of the things she had decorated except for the new items I myself bought from the store. Take a look at the way she decorated:

She did allow me decorate the tree.  I wanted to decorate my tree in gold this year.  These gold ribbons were from my friend who didn't want to use them anymore.  I bought some gold artificial flowers from Michael's at 50% off and inserted them randomly around the tree.  The ornaments were from previous years.
I didn't want to spend any money or add anymore Christmas decorations since we have already gathered many decorations from previous years.  However, I always like to have something different every year.  We went out to the neighborhood and collected some pinecones and green leaves.  I used whatever I had at home to decorate the dining table:

Then I removed them from the dining table and replaced this centerpiece when friends came over to visit.  It's better to have a lower centerpiece on the table so that we can talk more easily:

This is the guest bathroom.  I only added the Christmas themed fingertips and some of the greens to decorate the flameless candle. A good decorating tip is to buy cloths of the same themed color, so that on special occasions, you would only need to buy little accessories to change the theme.  For example, I use the large red towels all year long and replace the fingertip towels with other accessories as the occasions change.

I got this cute decoration for the toilet last year and forgot that I had bought them.
This tree used to be at the front door and I moved it to this quiet corner.  It just made it feel cozier.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Laksa Noodle Soup

This is the dish I crave the most and is a must order dish from any Malaysian or Singaporian restuarant. I have eaten curry Laksa as long as I can remember.  I have never tried to make this dish myself because I was never able to find the Laksa sauce from the local Asian supermarket.  Until recently, I have developed an interest to mix sauces myself.  I went to my local Asian supermarket and literally went through every jar and sauce on the shelf.  I was determined to see what I can find to make my favorite dish.  I knew the Laksa soup is made from a shrimp base.  I remembered it was listed as Curry Laksa in the menu, so there must curry in it.  After couple of tries,  I finally created a recipe that I was content with.  I am happy that I can finally make this at home whenever I crave for it without paying a high price for a small bowl of Laksa. 

Serving for 4

2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 package of curry powder
1/2 can of minced prawn in spicy paste
2 cans of coconut milk (5.6 oz each)
2 gloves of garlic
1 bag Fried tofu
1/2 bag bean sprout
4 oz. green beans or okra
1/2 bag of fried fish balls
1 bag of rice noodle


1. Heat pan with oil, stir fry garlic, add prawn paste and curry powder until fragrant.
2. Add green bean and stir fry for 5 minutes.
3. Add in fish balls and fry for 2 minutes then add tofu.
4. Add some soysauce.
5. Pour in the chicken soups and coconut milks.
6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. If it's not salty, add soysauce.
8. Cook noodle according to the package.
9. To serve, place noodles in the bowl, add cooked ingredients and soup, add in the bean sprouts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

BAM - Meatloaf with Baked Potatoes

My kids made this request for dinner tonight.  I have not made this for a long time.  I decided to add some honey mustard and soysauce this time for a little twist.  Instead of mixing the sauce with the meat ingredients, I poured them on top of the meatloaf.  It was becuase I wasn't sure how well the kids will like the new taste.  It turns out the kids like it better than the usual one I made which was without those two new ingredients.

For other easy BAM (Bake A Meal) recipes, please click or check under category BAM.


Mixture A:

1 Onion,chopped
1 Bell pepper,chopped
1 1/2 lb. ground beef (20% fat)
1 egg
1 tbsp soysauce
1 cup Italian bread crumb
Salt and pepper

Mixture B:

3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey mustard

4 Russet potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned


1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
2. Add mixture A into a large bowl and mix well.
3. Pack it into a 9"x5" loaf pan.
4. In separate bowl, combine the mixture B and mix it well then pour over the meatloaf.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour.
6. Place 4 russet potatoes in a pie plate, using fork or knife to poke some holes on each potatoes.
7. Place the pie plate next to meatloaf and bake together for one hour.
8. Let cool off for 10 minutes before slicing the meatloaf, serve sliced meatloaf with cut up potatoes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thai Stir Fried Shrimp

Another Thai dish my friend taught me.  It is the sauce that makes this dish tasted so good.


2 Tbsp shrimp paste soya bean oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Green onion, chopped
2 gloves garlic


1.  Heat pan with oil.  Stir fry garlic until fragrant.
2.  Add shrimp and stir fry until cooked.
3.  Add the remaining ingredients one at a time.
4.  Stir well and serve with rice.


This shrimp paste can alos be used for shrimp fried rice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thai Chillie Asparagus

Some freinds came over for lunch at my house last week.  This is one of the traditional Thai food my friend cooked on that day.  She bought all the ingredients and showed me how to cook this.  The food tasted sweet and salty at the same time.  It might be better to leave out the sugar the next time I try cooking it.


2 gloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp Thai Chillie paste with soya bean oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg asparagus


1.  Wash and trim asparagus, discard ends of asparagus.
2.  Heat oil in the pan, stir fry garlics until fragrant.
3.  Add in cut asparagus and fry for 5 minutes.
4.  Add the sauce one at a time. Stir well with asparagus.
5.  Cook until asparagus are tender, then serve with rice.


Fish sauce is salty, adjust the salt depends on the amount of fish sauce is used.  This chilie paste can also be used for Tom Yum Gong.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stir Fried Sticky Rice

It is common for Chinese to have clay pot rice during the winter when the weather is cold.  In traditional clay pot rice recipe, Chinese sausage and dried pork belly were used.  I bought both ingredients and decided to use sticky rice instead of traditional white rice.  The way to cook this dish is similar to but much simpler than the dish,Sweet Gluten Rice, I made back in February.  I did not use the clay pot to cook the rice but used it to serve to keep the dish warm.  The portion here is quite large and it is enough for about 6 people.


2 cups of long grain rice (original called for 2 cups of sweet rice)
3 cups of sweet rice
3 pairs of Chinese sausage
1/2 Dried Pork Belly
4 slices of Ginger
2 gloves of Garlic, finely chopped
10 Small Dried shrimp (soak for 5 minutes and drain the water),finely chopped
3 tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Chinese Sausage
Dried Pork Belly

1. Wash and pour both types of rice into the rice cooker.

2. When rice is cooked, let it cool off.

3. Slice Chinese sausage and  dried pork belly into smaller pieces.

4. Heat the pan first. Then add only a little cooking oil, and stir fry gingers and garlic until fragrant but not burned.

5. Add in the Chinese sausage and dried pork belly and stir fry until cooked.

6. Add dried shrimp and stir until fragrant.

7. Add the cooled rice, mix well with oyster,soy sauce and sesame oil.

Stir fry and mix everything well until the rice is covered with sauce and turned to a brown color.

Serve while it's hot. Add some soy sauce if it's not salty enough.


1 You can adjust the white rice to whatever ratio of the sweet rice. It's really your own preference as the original recipe should be sweet rice only.

2. It's important to let the rice cooled off before you mix in with other cooked ingredients so they will be easy to stir fry and do not look mushy when done. You can add more meat and adjust oyster or soy sauce to your preference.

3. Serve with any vegetable to help with digestion. I served this with a quick fix vegetable chicken soup.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Love Letter - Letter to my daughter

I read this recently from a fellow blogger.  It was a well written and beautiful post.  She used the words so many of us want to say to our kids, but might not be able to articulate as beautifully as we would like to.  I felt we could all learn from her.    It is my hope that others will pass the content of this letter on to their friends and families.  Her letter may save a few lives.  (It is viral on Facebook, that's good to know).

Source:Vicky Bell's Blog

Letter to my daughter ( in the wake of senseless tragedy)

Hello my girl,

I wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun too.

But I also have to have a mommy moment- bear with me here. I won't take long, and I won't be saying anything I haven't already said in one form or another, but it is important.

You may or may not have heard about the NJ college student who killed himself last week because his room-mate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.

My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things:
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.

If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks nobody would have cared- he'd have gotten past it. People have short memories- life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape- they would have loved him afterward too. A few awkward moments and then life goes on.

But when you are young you don't know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this, you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something? Well, it didn't last. That's kind of what it's like- awful things happen, you feel like there's a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.

The students, a girl and boy, who were involved in the taping and posting-- they are being charged with bias crime, invasion of privacy and possibly other things. Their college life is over. They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives-- and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong- but also so kid-stupid. Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever- but even so- their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.

So, my beautiful girl, never, ever think something is unfixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can't get past it.
And if someone is mean to you, and it isn't something you can ignore-- seek out people to talk to about it. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don't know how to ask- try writing a letter instead. And right now- before you might need such help- think about who you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil sometimes we don't always think as clearly- having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.

Finally, don't be mean. Don't let other people be mean.
Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren't as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself.
Treat people's feelings like fragile little puppies- if you play with them- be gentle.
I love you so much and I know you really don't need me to tell you this stuff.... but it's my job.

Love and hugs,


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

My daughter flew back for the Thanksgiving holiday on Tuesday night.  She had been away for college and missed the Chinese food terribly.  The first thing she asked for was a nice Chinese dinner.  That's where we had our dinner after picking her up from the SFO airport.  There are many restaurants in the area close to the airport.   We usually go to Broadway Bistro since they have a big selection on the menu.

Broad Bistro
349 Broadway
Millbrae, CA 94030
(650) 692 - 3378

We have been to this restaurant many times.  We usually order the Hong Kong style milk tea and drinks here.  We wanted to try the One Man Hot Pot since the weather was so cold that night.  It was $16.98 per person but the portion was big enough for two people.

The raw ingredients selection was quite filling.  There were shrimp, oyster, fish fillet, meatballs, chicken, pork liver, egg, tofu and plenty of lettuce and cilantro.  I believed the meat marinated with salt since I could taste them without dipping them in the soy sauce.

The waiter poured in the soup and vegetable firsts, then let it boil so we could cook the raw ingredients ourselves.  The ingredients were fresh and we enjoyed it very much.

The kids always liked to order baked pork with pasta. It was average in my opinon.

This is my older daughter's favorite,  Portugese baked chicken, but it was a dissapointment at this place.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday full of food, laughter with your family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Japanese Sesame Salad Dressing

Every time we went to a Japanese restaurant, the salad that came with the meal was always our favorite.  It was the salad dressing that made it taste so good.  I can never find that dressing in supermarkets.  I have tried several bottles of salad dressing that looked like that dressing, but it never tasted the same as what we had from the restaurant.  I also tried a few recipes I found online, but the results were not the same.  I didn't know you can buy the salad dressing from the restaurant until my neighbor told me so.  So then I bought it at the restaurant whenever I craved it.  However, the price is not cheap for small container of that dressing and thought I should try to mix the dressing myself.  After several tries with the mixing of different ingredients, I finally came up with a recipe that's very close to the dressing from the restaurant. 

I found that it's important to get the Japanese mayonnaise and not use the American mayonnaise.  The taste is different.  I made the mistake by using the red miso; that's why the color didn't look as creamy.  Adjust your own sugar and mayonnaise amounts to your liking,  but if you are counting your calories, you can omit the mayonaise and it will still taste great without it.  It took me awhile to figure out what the Japanese mayonaise looked like since I don't read Japanese.  That's why I will always try to put the pictures of the ingredients whenever possible for those of you not familiar with the ingredients.

Miso paste (left) and Japanese Mayonaise (right)

Other ingredients


1 tsp white miso paste
2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
1 tsp salad vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp sesame seed
1 tsp sesame sesame oil
1 tsp soysauce
1 tsp olive oil

Slowly mix in one ingredient at a time and mix well.  For best taste, use after refrigeration for at least 30 mniutes.


You can add a little Vietnamese Srirachi sauce if you like it a little spicy for different variation. Use this mayonnaise as you would with the American mayonnaise.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Amazing Konapun--Fake Food

I was looking for interesting collections people have, and I stumbled upon this amazing YouTube video.  These are Japanese creations of play food.  They cooked like real food.  Watch how the rice is prepared and listen to the sizzling sound:

Aren't these cool?   You can also find other Konapun videos ranging from fried food to desserts.  It seems people are collecting these in Japan.  This is what I read from the video description:

(1) It's a Japanese toy named Konapun.
(2) It's not edible.
(3) It's not for children under 8 years old. And must do play under the adult. ( Under adult supervising)
(4) The fake food made of Konapun will rot soon.
(5) It doesn't cook with actual heat. It is just powder and waterwith sound effects.

 Here's another cool one:

When I searched online, I found that there is a big range of prices and I thought many of you might be interested to give these out as Christmas presents.  They are available on Ebay and some other sites.  Here is a video where you can find more answers about them.  Be sure to read the comment below this video to get into the website "rakuten dot com" if you are interested to get some.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

We visited the Carlsbad premium outlets while we were down in Southern California.   The weather was a bit warm, as usual, but it was nice to walk around the outdoor mall.  The outlet mall was not big but there were a few stores that you generally do not find in other outlet malls such as Barney New York, Salvatore Ferragamo, Crate and Barrel,etc. (Check the link above for stores).  I was really surprised to find Barney New York there.  The store was small but I was glad that I found a bag that has several compartments in it.  It is lightweight and useful and convenient to travel with.

There was also a Cosmetics Company Store and a Lancome- the Company Outlet which you can find brand name products.  The cosmetics and skin care products were offered at great discounted price.  The selections were limited since they still are outlet stores.  I was in the Company Outlet for a short time since I don't use Lancome product and their other brands product were very limited.  I was more intested to go the Comestic Company Store since they have brand names like Prescriptive, Estee Lauder and M.A.C. and Clinique products.

MAC is well known and has a good reputation among the makeup industries.  It was loved and used by a lot of professional artists. I wanted a M.A.C. eye gel liner and was lucky to find it came with a small brush, eye shadow and  mascara.  I am loving these after using them for several days now.  The gel eyeliner did not smear and lasted all day.  I love the shimmering of the eye shadow powder and a little on the eye lids really brightens up the eyes.  The mascara was a dissapointment.  It was so flaky that I had to remove it right away. 
MAC Eye Gel liner set, $29
I love this very neutral palette of blush which is great to wear in the day time. 

 MAC Blush. $26

After trying many lipglosses that were available, I finally decided to get one that is darker than what I would usually have picked.  I like the look better by applying the lip pencil first then the lipglass.

 MAC Lipglass, $10

I wanted to buy the Prescriptive Anywear makeup stick with SPF 15 ( Y/O Gold 07) but it came with a set of two for $22.50.  I didn't really want to get two.  I found a similar color; the Flirt Stick Concealer provides good coverage on my age spots after dabbing it on top of my BB cream foundation.  I am really happy to have finally found a concealer that works and blends well on coverage and doesn't give me a cakey look.  Both of these will be on my must-have make up products.

 Flirt stick concealer $8.50

I found it was very useful that there were cotton balls and Q-tips available to the customers and that you could test them on your skin.  I spent a long time there testing the products I was interested in.  The sales ladies were really friendly and pleasant.  I had a good experience and will definitely shop there again the next time I visit San Diego.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
5620 Paseo del Norte, Suite 100
Carlsbad, CA  92008
(760) 804-9000

Monday, November 8, 2010

San Diego, CA

Last week we traveled to Southern California again and stayed at the Country Inn & Suites San Diego North.  We had reserved a standard room for the night.  It was nice that the front desk upgraded us to a suite with no extra charge when we checked in.. 
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson
5875 Lusk Blvd.
San Diego North, CA 92121

The suite was comfortable, except the A/C in the suite was really noisy.  This was the bedroom.  The living room was very nice with sofas, tv, refrigerator and a desk.  

There was a complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning.

There were omelets,bacons, hash brown, oatmeal,cereal, orange and apple juice, coffee, tea and milk on this side of the station.

A self-serve waffle and toast station where you can have toast, bagel and waffle with serveral kinds of syrup to choose from.

After breakfast, we visited the Premium Outlets mall in Carlsbad, which I will describe in another post later.  We had a late lunch at the ocean view cafe in UCSD.  It has a spectacular view.  There were many selections on the menu, from sandwiches to other hot food.  They also had an impressive array of pastries and smoothies.  All were made fresh.

Ocean view cafe
 Overlooking the ocean

Later that evening ,we went to 99 ranch market to get some fruits and drinks before heading to dinner.  I heard so much about this one restaurant and decided to go there for dinner.  The place is located inside a Chinese grocery center.  The food was really good and the portions were huge.  We ordered a plate of rice with roasted duck.  It was so delicious that we ordered an extra half of a duck afterwards.

 The congee we ordered tasted average, but the amount of preserved duck eggs was generous in the congee.
 We loved the beef chow fun which was not greasy and was stir-fried well.
We also ordered a red bean cold drink, and to my surprise, it was really good.  We couldn't finish the congee, so we packed it to go. The place is open until very late in the evening.  It is certainly a place worth to visit at anytime for good food at an affordable price.

San Woo restaurant (inside the 99 Ranch Market)
5975 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 95211