Friday, May 28, 2010

Tiger Prawns With Fennel 茴香蝦

I used the fennel I bought from flea market and cooked it with the prawns. I was surprised to find the fennel had a texture like celery and a very pleasant fragrant but not as strong as lemon grass.  I like snow peas with shrimps, I thought this would be a good combination.


5 Basil leaves
Fennel, discard the top part and slice the root as you would do with an onion.
1 lb. Snow peas
1 chili hot pepper. sliced (optional)
Tiger prawns, cleaned and rinsed
Ginger, minced
Garlic, minced
Shredded lettuce or arugula (optional)

Mixed sauce:
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a little salt and blanch prawns and snow peas, drained
  2. Heat up a pan with oil, saute prawns until fragrant.
  3. Add minced ginger and garlic.
  4. Add black pepper, hot pepper, basil, fennel and saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add cooked prawns and snow peas and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the mixed sauce and stir well.
  7. Pour over shredded lettuce or arugula.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Japanese Style Pork over Rice 洋風豚肉飯

This is a Japanese style recipe I tried last night.  It's a simple dish to make and can be served either over white rice or fried rice.


Olive oil
1/2 onion
Fresh Japanese mushrooms
1 Bay leave
Mixed sauce: 1 tbsp Mirin, 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1 tbsp ketchup
Black pepper

  1. Heat pan with olive oil.
  2. Saute garlic and pork.
  3. Add in onion and saute until fragrant.
  4. Add in mushrooms and saute until cooked.
  5. Stir in flour and cooked until thicken.
  6. Add the mixed sauce and mix well.
  7. Add bay leave and cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle some pepper.
  9. Serve over Japanese fried rice* (see below for recipe)

Japanese Fried Rice

Cook rice, let cool off.
Heat pan and melt some butter , stir in cooked rice.  Add salt to prefer taste.
Sprinkle parsley or green onion on top.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Mung Bean Soup(Dao Shuang)绿豆爽

I was very happy to see this long forgotten dessert when my friend came over to visit with this on her hand.  This is a popular Chinese dessert that sells by the local street vendors in Asia.  When I was a little kid, my dad used to take me to eat this on weekends.   I have not had this for over 30 years.  I was so surprised to hear that this is so easy to make,
Makes 4 servings


1 cup green mung bean, soaked in cold water for an hour, drained and rinsed
2 pandan leaves, rinsed(optional)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 you tiao 油條(fried dough fritters)
1/4 cup sweet potatoes flour, 1/4 cup water

  1. Soak the mung bean in cold water for an hour. Drain and rinsed.
  2. Steam the mung bean for 20 minutes or until they are cooked.
  3. Add pandan leaves, water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil or until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add steamed mung bean and mix well in low heat.
  5. Slowly stir in the thickener until mixture is thicken.
  6. Serve warm with sliced you tiao.

I did not have pandan leaves at home, but it still tasted good to me not having it.  The you tiao is a must have when serving this dessert.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Rolls with Fantana Cheese

I had left-over Fantana cheese and was not sure what to do about it.  I saw an Italian recipe with veal which also used Fantana.  I did not have veal at home and didn't want to go buy it.  I had already thawed out some chicken breasts for dinner and thought I should try it on the chicken instead.  The recipe looked simple to make, but it actually took me some time to prepare it.  However,  it was very good and sure nice to serve to friends.


Chicken breasts
2 Shallots, sliced
Fantana cheese, sliced
Red cabbage, shredded
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Some flour

  1. Slice chicken breasts thinly across and pound it with meat mallet.
  2. Heat oil in pan, saute cabbage for 10 minutes, and add salt.
  3. Add red wine vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes or until sauce is dry.
  4. Start layering chicken breasts with a piece of Fantana cheese, proscuitto,and cooked cabbage.
  5. Roll chicken breasts tightly and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle some flour on top.
  6. Add some oil in a hot pan.
  7. Saute onion until fragrant.
  8. Add in the rolled chicken, saute and turn occasionally.
  9. Pour in some white wine and continue to saute until chicken is thoroughly cooked
  10. Serve immediately when it is still warm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Furry Melon (Mao Gua ) Peanuts Soup 節瓜花生湯

Mao gua is a type of squash that has a long tapered shape with a light green, furry outer skin.  It is good for sautéing, stir frying, or using as an ingredient for soups and stews.  A furry and even size in shape is best to get when selecting mao qua. 
This soup is enriched with vitamins and it will help rejuvenate the skin.  It doesn't require a long time to cook.


1 Mo Gua
2 Chicken Breasts
5 Shiitake Mushrooms
Some raw peanuts
4 Carrots
2 Dried Scallops

  1. Soak peanuts, dried scallops and mushrooms in cold water and set aside.
  2. Add chicken breasts in cold water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add all soaked ingredients into the water and boil for 30 minutes on  medium low heat.
  4. Wash and peel mo gua and carrots. Cut into small pieces.
  5. Add carrots and mo gua and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Indoor Flowers and Plants

I have been crazy planting some indoor plants.  My friend gave me this green plant to plant at home.  She told me to soak it in water for a couple of weeks or until  the root shows up before I plant them in a pot.
The orchids my husband bought me surprised me with this bloom one morning.  I was so excited when I saw the flower.  I usually don't have a green thumb and this really makes me happy.

I like to cut these flowers from our backyard and put them on our kitchen table.  I like it because I don't have to worry about falling leaves or petals and it lasts a long time.
I also picked some roses from our backyard and set them in the dining room.

To make sure the flowers last longer in the vase:
  1. First fill up a vase with cold water.
  2. Cut the stems at an forty five degree angle so the bottom will not just sit in the water and rot later on.
  3. Trim any leaves that you submerge in the water.
  4. Put roses in warm water (not over 110 degrees) for 5 minutes then transfer to the vase with cold water.
  5. Put them in a cooler area so it will last longer.  If you want it to bloom faster, then put them where there is a lot of sunlight.
  6. Trim the bottom of stems and change the water a week later.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fresh Guacamole On Bagel

I whipped up this guacamole at the last minute to prepare an after school snack for my kids.  Besides dipping it with the chips, I also toasted the bagel and spread the guacamole on it.   It was simply quick and delicious. My kids said this guacamole was really good.   It is really not worth it to pay the expensive guacamole and get a small amount of it from the restaurants when you can make this quick and nutritious dip at home for less than a couple of dollars.


1 Avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed
1/2 Lemon, juiced
2 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2  an onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin or oregano
1 clove garlic, mashed
Hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
Lemon/lime juice

Combine all ingredients. Serve as a dip with chips, or use as a spread or topping on breads, burgers or Mexican entrees. Cover and refrigerate any left over.


Avocados will turn from green to black color when ripe.  At desired stage of ripeness, avocados may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Acidic juice keeps avocado turning brown, or add the pit of avocado into the guacamole before refrigerate will help too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pork Rice Congee 瘦肉粥

Rice congee is also known as rice porridge.  It is commonly served for breakfast in Asia.  It can be cooked watery or to a texture similar to oatmeal or porridge.  Besides functioning as an everyday meal,  it is also used to feed young infants and to a person who is not well with loss of appetite.
My little daughter was running a fever few days ago.  She didn't want to eat anything and I made this pork rice congee for her to make sure she got plenty of  fluid.  Giving only clear liquid or soup to a sick person is best for them.  I only used a small amount of pork to make the porridge more tasty for her to eat.  She was willing to eat a bowl after the fever went down.


2 oz. pork, sliced
2 dried scallops
1/2 cup rice, rinsed
5 cups of water or more to preferred consistency
1 green onion, chopped

  1. Soak dried scallops in cold water.
  2. Marinate rice with a little oil and salt.*
  3. Add scallops with 5 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add in the rice and bring to a boil. Stir to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom.**
  5. Turn heat down to simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Marinate pork with a little cornstarch, sesame oil, sugar and salt.
  7. Add the marinated pork and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Stir until pork is cooked. 
  8. Sprinkle some green onions when ready to serve.

*Congee tastes better when marinating the rice with a little oil and salt first. I did not do that in this case because I wanted to keep the congee  less fattening.  It is also common practice to omit meat but dried scallops to keep the congee clear of fat.

**Water should be brought to a boil before adding the rice.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rounding up on Cosmetics

These are the things I always come back to no matter how many other brands I try.  These are the staples of  cosmetics I use everyday.

Natural Shine Lip Gloss (Pretty Pink Rose) - Sally Hansen's Inspired by Carmindy. It adds some shine but shows just a little hint of pink.
True Match foundation -by  Loreal . The undertone color is not too yellow or pink. It matches very closely to my skin tone and doesn't feel or look cakey.

Eye liner Gel - MAC Fluidliner.  This eyeliner stays on ALL day.  It doesn't rub off in the creases of my eyes and it goes on smoothly.

Small Eye Liner Brush - This is my favorite eyeliner brush. It has a very short and angle cut brush. I stumbled upon it when I couldn't find my MAC eyeliner brush. I found it's really easy to control and draws a very precise line.  It doesn't smear messily on my eye lids.

I always like Victoria's Secret fragrance products.  I received this body spray from my friend last weekend.
It smells so wonderful and I just love to spray it after applying body lotion.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guacamole Salad

My friend brought over this Guacamole Salad on the day we had barbeque. She taught me how to make it.


1 Can of corn, drained, or chopped yellow bell pepper
1 Can of black Beans, drained
Some cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), sliced in half

1 to 2 Jalepenos
1 red onion, sliced
1 avocado

Salad Dressing:

1 Lime, juiced
2 Tbsp red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
Salt and Pepper

  1. Mix all liquids well and set aside.
  2. Combine all the ingredients and add the salad dressing. Mix well and refrigerate for a few hours.
  3. Cut avocado into cubes and mix in when ready to serve

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Food for Barbeque

We had barbeque when our friends came over to visit last weekend.  Beside barbequed chicken, sausage and prawns, we also had these vegetables and salads on the table.

Guacamole salad (left), Japanese Ban Ban Ji ( chicken salad, right) and corn on the cob:

 Grilled zucchini and bell peppers:
My husband decided to be creative for the first time. He made this dipping sauce for the tigers prawns he grilled. That was his first experience in sauce mixing. It was actually really good and we were all amazed!
Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
Hot sesame oil, minced garlic, chicken marinated sauce, olive oil, and some sugar.

Of course, we always have dessert afterward.   My friend brought a fruit platter and we also had the Japanese Pumpkin's Tapioca Soup for dessert.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Simple Green Daikon Soup

My kids have had very bad allergies and I made this soup to help ease the symptoms.  When I wanted to make soup in a hurry, I just used the ingredients from what I could remember in my head.  This is a simpler version of the  Green Daikon and Carrots Soup  I made last time.


1 lb. Lean pork
2 Green Daikon, peeled and cut into big pieces
4 Carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
5 Shiitake mushrooms
5 Dried Dates
2 Slices of dried, salty turnip (optional)

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Rinse all ingredients and set aside.
  3. Add in pork and the rest of ingredients into the boiling water . Bring to another boil on high.
  4. Turn heat to simmer and continue to cook for two and half hours.

The salty turnip is located in the dried food section in any Asian supermarket. It is very salty and I like to use it to cook with soup as it adds more taste to the soup. There is no need to add any salt in the soup when it's ready to serve.  Add salt to your prefer taste if you do not have this ingredient.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crisp Baked Lemon Catfish

I'm sure you all had a wonderful Mother's day celebration.   I would like to share with you the meal my daughter made for me on Mother's Day.  She made everything from scratch. This is Catfish Meuniere with homemade garlic potatoes and roasted bell peppers.  It doesn't look very good in the picture but it tasted delicious.

Catfish Meuniere

She also bought me a Tiramisu, that was so delicious.  I couldn't stop eating it!

My little one made me a beautiful pearl bracelet that I now wear it on my wrist.  She also made me a lovely and touching card as usual. I always enjoy reading her card.  She has always been good in writing and creating beautiful card ever since she's very young.

Since there were still two catfish fillets left in the refrigerator, I tried this simple recipe I found from Living magazine.  I didn't have the same ingredients the original recipe called for.  I substituted with what I had at home and we liked the taste.  I think I will try it again with the cod next time.

Crisp Baked Lemon Catfish
adapted from Martha Stewart's Living Magazine - Crisp Baked Lemon Cod

Serves 2

1 cup honey nut cheerios, crushed*
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro*
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
2 catfish fillets, skinned*
4 cups baby spinach*
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp cooking oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine cereal, oil, cilantro, zest, and sea salt.
  2. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.  
  3. Press fish in crumb mixture, turning to coat.  Transfer to wire rack.
  4. Bake until golden brown, and cooked through, about 14 to 16 minutes.  
  5. Heat a saute pan and add cooking oil.
  6. Saute garlic until brown but not burned, scoop up, and set aside.
  7. Add spinach in the pan and saute for a few minutes and then add salt to taste.
  8. Divide fish and spinach onto two plates and add cooled garlic on top of spinach.

I preferred to have cooked spinach, so I just prepared it the way I like it.  Baking the fish on a wire rack allows the fish to get crisp on all sides. Squeeze lemon wedges over fish for a more tangier taste.

*In the original recipe, the cod, toasted rice cereal, and flat leaves parsley were used. Spinach was prepared as salad with lemon juice drizzled over it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Polka-Dots Outfits

I have been into polka-dotted fashion lately.  This picture immediately caught my eye when I saw it from one fellow blogger.  I like the combination of  yellow and polka-dots.  It gives it a little edgy but modern feel.
It made me want to go shopping to get a polka-dotted shirt right away.  I know I wouldn't be interested to getting the polka-dotted jacket because it's not that versatile. A polka-dotted shirt is more versatile in this case.  I got so inspired by this outfit combination.  My brain started to think of what could I do to mimic this look. I didn't think I owned any clothes that were in polka-dotted until I checked my closet.  I found a scarf and a summer skirt.  I pulled out all the similar components that I needed to mimic the above and started to play with them.

The fabrics used in this ensemble were all light weight to suit the spring and summer weather.  The white jacket came with a white belt, but I replaced it with a yellow belt and balanced it off with a pair of orange shoes. I used the polka-dotted scarf to mimic the polka-dotted look of a shirt.  I also used a black pencil skirt .

I have an A-line polka-dotted skirt and came up with this look. This is a little more casual but still a chic-looking ensemble.  I paired it with the same jacket,shoes and belt, but changed it to a yellow blouse underneath.
I could also pair it with a yellow handbag I bought last year and change the shoes to white or black to avoid the outfit matching too much. I also have a yellow scarf but it's a wool blend and it doesn't have the right weight for the season. Now that I've got this idea, I can always swap my accessory to come up with other ensembles for the season in the future.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This is the first year I am having a Mother's Day without my mom.  My mom passed away last year.  It still hurts when I think of her.  My daughter made a video and gave it to me for Mother's Day last year.  I was very touched by the content of the video and the lyrics of this song.   I would like to dedicate this song to my mom.  I picked the video with lyrics so that you all could understand the precise meaning of the song.  To all the mothers in the world who gave and still are giving their best to their children, this song is also for you!  Happy Mother's Day!

Because You Loved Me

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lemon Grass Pork Chops

We love to eat grilled pork whenever we go to Vietnamese restaurants.  I attempted to mimic the taste and cook these for dinner.  I found that lemon-grass was the key ingredient that made the difference.


1 Lemon-grass
4 Pork Chops
2 Cloves garlic
1 Yellow onion
3 Tbsp Mae Ploy Thai chicken sauce

Marinating sauce:

1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp peppers
1 Tbsp cornstarch

  1. Pound and thin the pork chops with a meat mallet.
  2. Add marinating sauce and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Heat and add cooking oil into grill pan.
  4. Add in garlic and onions, saute until fragrant.
  5. Add pork chops and let cook for 5 minutes on each side.
  6. Pour the chicken sauce over the pork chops and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn and cover both sides with sauce.
  7. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Japanese Pumpkin's Tapioca Soup南瓜西米露

Japanese pumpkin is also called Kabocha squash.  It has a dark green skin, and the color of the inside is orange.  The skin is really hard, so cook lightly in microwave will help cutting it easier.

It  is believed to have an effect of lowering the cholesterol.  It has the sweetness texture like sweet potatoes but with a slight melon-cucumber flavor.  I often sauteed it with garlic and black beans.  On Sunday, our friends came to visit and we had barbeque at home.  She taught me how to make this dessert right after dinner.  It's very simple and quick to make this dessert.

Serve 6 people


1/2 Cup Tapioca
1 Japanese pumpkin
6 Cups water
1 can coconut milk
Rock Sugar

  1. Soak tapioca in cold water.
  2. Place pumpkin into microwave and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Peel and cut pumpkin to pieces.
  4. Turn heat high, add water and bring it to a boil.
  5. Add rock sugar until dissolve.  .
  6. Add pumpkin and cook until it is soft.  Turn to low heat and mash the pumpkin to smaller pieces
  7. Taste and add sugar to prefer sweetness.
  8. Drain tapioca and stir into the pot, stir constantly until tapioca tunrs clear.
  9. Pour in coconut milk and bring it to a boil then turn off heat.  Serve it while it's hot.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Polymer Clay

My little daughter really likes to work with polymer clay.  She is very talented in art and crafts.  She learned to sculpt with it a couple of years ago.  This craft requires a good amount of time and patience to finish.

She made these when she first learned how to sculpt with polymer clay.  The photo frame, vase and glass votive were all made from polymer clay.
This is the necklace she made for her sister as a birthday gift.  She designed this pendant and put it on to the sterling silver ring and chain.

I requested a tiger figurine. She made this tiger freehand for my birthday.
She had fun creating these cute animals during her leisure time.  These animals are one of a kind. 
Whenever she doesn't know what to give us for presents, I always tell her to make jewelry or anything from polymer clay.  When she told me she never made a sketch before actually sculpting them, I told her she's so good with this craft, she could sell them at Etsy.  She just laughed and I am glad she has the talent and enjoys making these crafts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Everything From Papers

My kids love to make crafts in their leisure time.  I thought you might be interested in looking at these fantastic crafts made from papers. These are 3D origami my older daughter tempted to make. They are complicated to make but she enjoyed the challenge.
These are 3D stars.  I think this is the first origami she learned many years ago while visiting Hong Kong.  It's very popular for the young people in Hong Kong to make a thousand of stars, put them in a glass jar and give it to their loved ones as a gift.  Beautiful strips of printed paper and clear glass jars are so popular and easily found in any Asian books and gifts shop here in the U. S. now.
 Beautiful paper flowers:
She made this to separate and store her earrings:

This is how she organize her earrings in the jewelry box:
This barrel is made of magazine papers:
 A framed 3D art:

My little daughter also likes to craft with papers.  She cut the red envelops from Chinese New Year and collaged them into new cards:
She also liked to print these pictures out and fold them, aren't these cute?

She gave me these flowers for mother's day a few years ago when she was still in elementary school.