Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Every year, my family and I have a traditional Thanksgiving feast with the usual turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, brussel sprouts, mashed potato, etc.  This year, however, my dad suggested that we keep it simple and have hot pot at his place, and that's exactly what we did.  I love hot pots.  They're perfect for family gatherings ... but I must say, although the traditional T-day feast requires a lot of preparation and hard work, it's highly preferable over a hot pot.  There was one thing that was missing, an OVERLY STUFFED TUMMY! Nonetheless, I still had a great time with the family <3 p="p">

Lots of leftover "balls" for me to take home!  Nom nom nom

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Heal-all Herb: Prunella Vulgaris

I'm close to turning 30, with 2.5 more years to be able to claim that I'm still in my "Twenties."  With age comes many things.  Yes, we obtain a lot more experience and knowledge, but comes with age are also fine lines, blemishes and wrinkles!  These are things that we can't avoid, but it is important to try and delay it as much as possible!!  Especially for us women!

Aside from keeping your skin clean and moisturizing more often, it is important to cleanse internally.  Afterall, you are what you eat!  So recently, I've been drinking a lot of herbal tea, specifically Prunella Vulgaris tea, termed "Ha Goo Cho" in Cantonese and Xia Ku Cao (?) in Mandarin.  They are sold in many Chinese bakeries as a cold beverage, for at least $2.00 a cup.  Good for a hot day out or days you feel weathered down or "heaty" as the Chinese would say, BUT it is so much simpler and more importantly, CHEAPER, to make it yourself on your stovetop!

I've tried several brands of Prunella Vulgaris and I must say this is my favorite.  It tastes authentic whereas other brands were less "herby," some even providing an awkward minty flavor.

I normally boil half a pot of water with a big handful of Prunella Vulgaris for about 20 minutes, until the herbal essence fills up my room and the tea comes out looking like this:

I personally love the taste, but it may be an acquired taste for tea and non-tea drinkers alike.  Drink it cold or hot with a bit of sugar, or without any if you enjoy the natural bitterness of tea.

What is even more crucial is to understand the many benefits of drinking this tea.  Prunella vulgaris is commonly known as the heal-all herb with many medicinal purposes, promoting healing of fevers and sore throats.  I don't have an official list of all the things it does, but if its alias is the "heal-all herb," I am sold!  Gulp down people!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Acts of Kindness

Little things can do BIG.  Little acts of kindness can go a long way.

I am always striving to be a better person, attempting to help people however I can, whenever I can and improving myself by learning from yesterday's mistakes.  It makes me proud to perform an act of kindness just to put a smile on someone's face because it puts a bigger smile on my own. 

To start off, I got really, really lost today in lower Manhattan.  Once the numbered streets and avenues disappear, I have no clue where I am going.  Even with Google Maps on my iPhone, I was unable to find my way, so I decided to ask for directions.  The first person I stopped didn't know where my destination was, so he continued to walk off.  The second man stopped to help me, even pulling up a map on his phone to locate which direction I should go.  He was probably heading to work, with only 5 minutes to 9am.  I was deeply touched, by a stranger.  Little act of kindness goes a very long way...

On my way back home, there were several passengers using the same mode of transportation that I have decided to use, a van operated by Chinese people.  There was an old lady who was screaming out her stop to the driver, but because she was of Toisanese descent and others were of Fujianese descent, nobody understood her and decided to ignore her.  I had trouble understanding her also, but tried to assist her in Cantonese, and ensured that the driver would bring her back home.  It made me happy to help the cute little old lady, and it amazes me how others can sit there and pretend they don't hear anything.

*Pats myself in the back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lucky Me

I'm feeling lucky!  I recently won a giveaway on Twitter from Milani Cosmetics.  It is titled the Silver Rain set and I am amazed by the effects each item creates!  I've never been a huge girly girl.  I shop for clothes frugally and I've been using the same makeup for the past few years, so I honestly have no clue what is out there.  Maybe this giveaway was a wake-up call for me, lol.

Anyway, the giveaway came with 2 nailpolishes that I am in love with.  I rocked this one for the first time over pink nailpolish and thought the outcome was pretty cute.

Glad to add these items to my nailpolish collection!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy is a Biatch

As most of you are aware, the east coast was recently struck by the monstrous biatch, Hurricane Sandy, bringing devastation and destruction to many parts of New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, my hometown of New York, and other parts of the Northeast.  I am glad that my family is safe, but many people were less fortunate, losing homes and lives.  New York City's truly been amazing, doing all they can do after this catastrophic event to help those stranded as well as recover the city's damaged infrastructure.  This city will continue to stand strong.  I hope everybody is okay and I am hopeful that we will be back in no time.  Thank you NY and the city's bravest heroes!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Slow Cooked Beef Brisket & Shank Stew

I recently made one of my go-to comfort foods:  Beef Brisket & Shank Stew.  Beef brisket noodle soup is an item that I order a lot, and I mean A LOT, at Chinese restaurants.  The beefiness of the soup and the softness of the beef are just so satisfying to your palette and tummy, especially during the colder days of Autumn or Winter.  It is a must-order at a Chinese restaurant, just as PHO is a must-order at a Vietnamese restaurant!

Prior to making the stew, I pulled up 2 recipes:  this one and this one.  I wasn't sure which one to follow exactly, so I kind of mixed up the two by using both beef brisket and beef shank.  I was afraid that the shank would come out tough because it was extremely hard cutting through it!  Lesson learned - next time, have the butcher cut it up for you!  I started off by washing off the gunk on the brisket and shank by soaking them in boiling water for a few minutes.  I then stir-fried all the ingredients in the Chu Hou Sauce and transferred the entire batch into a slow-cooker, letting it cook for about 3-4 hours.  Surprisingly, the brisket and shank both came out soft and the stew was really tasty.  It was great topping it over some noodles.  Sooo soothing to my tummy!

The great part was, the batch so huge we were able to have it for several meals.  Too delish to get sick of too.  =P

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Emmy Red Carpet Faves

So the Emmy's was held yesterday and all the ladies looked absolutely stunning in their glamorous gowns.  However, a few stood out to me!

I am really feelin Kelly Osbourne's hair.  It really complements her dress!


Photos courtesy of NY Daily News (

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coconut Macaroons

I absolutely love coconut macaroons, and everything coconut for that matter!

Check out the before and after pics of my coconut macaroons! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mister Hotpot

Last week, I finally had the opportunity to use a Groupon that I had purchased to Mister Hotpot in Sunset Park.  Not too many pics were taken as I was too busy eating the deliciously fresh food that we've selected, so I apologize!  I absolutely love hotpot, so I was really excited to try this new joint out.  I walked out with a very satisfied tummy, but very empty wallet ... even with a $30 Groupon!

Lets start out with the Pros.  The food was indeed really fresh.  They also had a huge selection of balls to choose from, one of which I loooooved: the fish roe ball.  A must try if you ever stop by!  I also loved the herbal soup base.  We ordered some udon noodles (which was fresh and elastic btw) and every bite tasted like herbal soup.  It was delish!  Nom, nom, nom.  Each selection also came out in a really fancy dish, so I have to give presentation an A.  Service was great & attentive and the decor was nice, which made the stay even more enjoyable.

And now for the Cons.  We made a reservation for 7pm on a Saturday night and the place was packed.  There were 4 to 5 other parties waiting to be seated, and we all waited over half an hour for  a table.  It doesn't help that the restaurant is situated on 8th ave, on one of the busiest streets in Sunset Park with pollution and huge crowds.  We all had to wait outside the restaurant while salivating and staring into the window at all the other customers eating.  A few parties got so fed up, they decided to stop waiting and eat at a different restaurant =(.  

Another con is I was CONNED!  I pointed out that I wanted shrimp, which was $6 on the regular menu, but the waitress, who was just doing her job (and doing it well apparently), asked me if I wanted fresh shrimp.  Thinking that it was the same price, I said sure ... and it came out to be $15 for a handful of shrimp!  I can't blame it on anybody but myself, for being foolish, but I would appreciate it if she informed me that fresh shrimp came from the special menu, which wasn't the menu I was looking at.

Lastly, the broth base itself starts off at $15 (or more depending on your soup selection)!!  So on top of everything you plan to order is this $15, which can really do damage to your wallet.  

Needless to say, the meal was absolutely fab, but I walked out paying $15 for shrimp that I regretted ordering cause I was getting annoyed with peeling the shell off anyway, plus $15 for soup that I didn't know about till I received my check.  Besides the wait and the pricey meal, it was a gratifying dinner.  I'll visit again when I'm up for spending some money.

Pork bone and herbal soups
Oysters, tripe, fish roe balls, cuttlefish balls, Fujianese fish balls, Beef .... just some of the stuff we ordered

Monday, August 20, 2012

Banana Bread Cupcakes ?

So I had a couple of ripe bananas on the counter the other day and decided to revisit the banana bread!  As you may know, if you've read my last post on banana bread, I do not own a loaf pan.  My last banana bread came out looking like biscotti.  This time, I decided to finally use the ramekins that my sister gifted me as part of a baking set one year for Christmas, and it worked pretty well I must say!  The bf and I both spooned it out of the little cups bite by bite, and it was delish.  I love banana bread and how my entire apartment smells like bananas.  Going bananas for banana bread!  I swear I purposely buy bananas just so they can go ripe and made into banana bread lol.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant Review: Ritz Cafe

After prolonging my visit to Ritz Cafe for a couple of years, I finally decided to give it a shot.  The "A" on their window assured me that it wouldn't be that bad of an experience.  I wouldn't give it an "A" for their food, but it was pleasant and worth another visit.

The main reason why the restaurant was appealing to me at first was its Hong Kong style dishes.  HK style may be a bit ambiguous to some  people, but to me, HK style cuisine is simply a conglomeration of Chinese and Western menu items.  Something as simple as having a cup of milk tea with a ham and egg sandwich can tempt you into a restaurant like this.  They serve rice noodles, congee and typical Chinese dishes, but you can also find items such as baked pasta or spaghetti with Chinese toppings.

Despite that, we opted for Chinese dishes, but I am more than willing to try some of their HK style menu items next time.

We started off with a Chicken satay.  It was more on the greasy side, as it was oozing with grease rather than the lighter grilled chicken satay, but it was still tasty.

The beef stew rice noodle casserole was probably our favorite.  Rice noodles were soft and the beef stew was tender and flavorful.  It was also a generous portion with a good amount of one of my faves, daikon radish.

I wasn't feeling too well that day, so I opted for a lighter seafood noodle soup.  Unfortunately, it was too light ... just bland.  The broth had no flavor whatsoever, so I had to add white pepper ... a lot of white pepper.

My bf had the Singapore rice noodle, which was okay.  The chicken in the stirfry tasted a bit off to him, but it was a good enough dish.

Overall, I'd give the food a 7.5 out of 10.  Service was good, other than our waiter mixing up one of our orders.  The decor was plain but the good part was: we caught up with our Olympics on their flat screen TV.

Worth another visit.  Next time, I will go for the HK style items.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bad Day :(

Having such a bad day today.  So bad that I've lost my appetite, something I have almost 24/7.

I wish food can cheer me up right now.  But only time will heal...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Smoked Salmon Overdose

Am I possibly eating too much smoked salmon?  I've been having it for breakfast daily!

On a side note, GO USA!  Love the London Olympics.  USA Rocks!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


OMG berries are in season.  Look how lovely they look.  Sweet too!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

San Francisco Part 2

I finally received my CPA certificate in the mail! Woohoo, I am officially a CPA!

So we stayed at Petite Auberge in San Francisco, a boutique hotel affiliated with the White Swan right next door. I wasn't too pleased when I walked into the room with floral wallpapers and Victorian style furniture. The room was a bit on the small side and I really wasn't feeling the decor. After staying for 5 nights, I have to say it wasn't too bad. The best part was the breakfast and happy hour. They provided free goodies and wine!

Breakfast with oatmeal, eggs, sausage patties and pastry
Breakfast with quiche, croissants and sausages
Cute tartlets from happy hour
We also went to the Fisherman's Wharf, which is San Fran's version of our South Street Seaport.  We stopped by for its famous New England Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl and it was delish!  I tried to eat as much of the sour dough bread bowl but I couldn't even get through half of it due to its size!

We stopped by for some Japanese food before we left for our flight.  Good, but pricey .. a lot pricier than New York!

I miss you San Francisco!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

San Francisco Part 1

I was recently away on vacation for 2 weeks, 5 days of which were spent in San Francisco.  My boy toy and I are use to packing light for hot Caribbean islands, our go-to vacation spot for the summer time.  So when I suggested that we go to San Francisco, where temperatures are usually peaking in the 60's, his response was "meh!"  I understood where he was coming from. I spent so long packing, trying to decide what to pack and coming up with plenty "what if" climactic scenarios in my head.

Despite the chilliness, we had a blast in San Fran.  We visited Little Saigon, Japantown, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods, Sonoma and Napa wineries, Golden Gate Park and the Fisherman's Wharf.  Here are some of the many food adventures:

The first thing that we wanted to do at Little Saigon was to try their Banh mi!  I found on Yelp a highly recommended spot called Saigon Sandwich, a boutique store that specializes in banh mi and banh mi only.  Yes, I wanted a cup of iced Vietnamese coffee to accompany my sandwich, but unfortunately, they don't make them, which explains why their sandwiches were so delish!  Unlike the ones that I've had here in NYC, Saigon Sandwich (SF) did not fill the bread with roast pork.  Instead, they used pulled pork, which was a pretty nice touch given its extreme softness.  One thing that kind of turned us off, however, was the pate.  The filling contained a huge slob of pate, which kind of overpowered the sandwich.  The 2nd time we ordered from Saigon Sandwich (yes, it was that good), we asked for it without the pate, and gave it a whopping 95%.

Because they didn't make iced coffee, we walked about a block away to Lee's Sandwich to grab a cup.  Loved it!  We did stop by to try THEIR banh mi another day, but I completely forgot to snap a picture of it because I was starving.  Anywho, the sandwich was abnormally long for a banh mi, lacked filling and just couldn't compare to Saigon Sandwich.  I advise that you walk the extra block then stop by for iced coffee at Lee's.  By the way, sandwiches were only $3.75 vs. the $4.50 that I pay here in New York!!  What the dilio...

My boyfriend modeling for me, free of charge
At North Beach, which houses San Fran's version of "Little Italy," we made a stop at Tony's Pizza Napoletana, another highly recommended spot on Yelp, for some pizza. We started off with some bread that came with 3 dipping sauces:  olive oil, garlic, and sweet chili.  It was a sweet treat to have while waiting for the pie.

Don't be fooled!  It didn't only come with 4 clams.  The entire pie was topped with pieces of clam ... Yum Yum!

To be continued...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fish w/ Bittermelon & Black Bean Sauce

Per Chinese people, there are a number of foods popular amongst the Asians, particularly the Chinese, that supposedly "de-heat" your body when you're feeling a bit "heaty."  I honestly have no clue what the proper term to describe this "heatiness" is, but it is pronounced "yeet hay" in the Cantonese dialect.  Symptoms of "heatiness" may include nose bleeds (again, this is per the Chinese), oral blisters, acne, and so on.  I suppose when anything protrudes from your skin or unpleasant liquids start oozing out of your body in one way or another ... you're heaty?  Lol.

Anyway, so whenever I'm feeling this heatiness and feel the need to cleanse my body, or may I use the popular term "detox," I go to these foods as a solution.  For instance, herbal teas, winter melon, and bitter melon.  I have no scientific backing to all this gibberish, but I am after all Chinese and will support my fellow Chinese for their health theories!

And that brings me to my dish, fish and bitter melon stir fry with black bean sauce.  Don't be intimidated by bitter melon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Antioxidants ... My Excuse to Eat Ice Cream!!

It's been so warm out recently that I finished my first tub of ice cream!!  Not a good sign, especially since bikini season is approaching!

However, I have nothing but rave for this brand and flavor of ice cream.  It is green tea ice cream by Maeda-en, by far one of my most favorite!  I love the fact that, unlike most other ice cream, Maeda-en's green tea ice cream isn't overly sweet.  At the same time, you can actually taste a good amount of green tea flavor.  It is also creamy enough to get the perfect scoop, so broken wrists are not required!  If you have to use antioxidants as an excuse to eat this ice cream everyday, go for it!!  That's what I do! =D

I'm working on my 2nd tub =X

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Banana Bread Biscotti?

When life throws you lemons ... you make lemonade.

When life throws you ripe bananas ... you make banana bread!!

So last week I bought 2 bunches of bananas.  This morning, I was left with two that had enough black dots on them to make me not want to eat them by itself.  There's nothing worse than eating mushy, ripe bananas that can bring others to a misophonic state.  I truly HATE that sound.

I'm looking at the bananas and one thing pops in my head.  Banana bread!  I've never made them before so I thought this was the perfect time.  I pulled up a few recipes and was surprised by how simple it was to make this bread.  So simple that I had all the ingredients in my pantry!  As for all the tools ... I say nay!  I was missing a loaf pan, so there was no way that my banana bread would come out looking like a loaf of bread.  I followed my recipe of choice, which can be found here, replacing the sugar with Splenda granulated sugar, and poured the batter into my baking pan, trying my best to shape the mixture into a loaf form.  I checked on the bread every 15 minutes and decided that I had to cut the time down to 30 minutes since the bread would most likely cook faster in a flatter pan.  And I was right!  I took it out in 30 minutes and the bread was perfectly baked.

This is no loaf!   =(
However, my attempt to shape the bread into a loaf failed ever so badly.  The bread ended up looking like biscotti after slicing, but on a good note, they were SO DELICIOUS!!  I also loved the pattern that was formed.  Bananas never looked this beautiful to me lol.

Banana bread biscotti!!
Pretty patterns and so yummy!

I had the bread for breakfast and it paired pretty nicely with a cup of coffee.  I will surely make banana bread again.  But first, I have to get myself a loaf pan =D