Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Translation:  “Wishing you happiness and prosperity!”

Today is Chinese New Year, year of the horse! I’ve always celebrated Chinese New Year with my family. Most of you recognize that it’s Chinese New Year because of the red envelopes filled with money! That’s definitely a big plus to celebrating, but I’m married now. Typically you receive money when you’re single. I now have to give out envelopes! Not as fun on the other side… stay single! J/K

Envelops
I got gold ones this year!

But did you know there are other ways  of celebrating too? More “behind the scene” type things. Growing up, there are a few specific things I remember my parents doing to prepare for the New Year.

1. You must clean the house on the eve of New Year. Why? Because you are not allowed to clean on New Year’s day. Cleaning symbolizes getting rid of all the bad luck and making room for the good. No cleaning on the first day of the year so that the newly arrived good luck cannot be swept away. I vacuumed on Wednesday so that counts right? Plus I did laundry today!

Laundry

2. You buy groceries to have in your house overnight for various reasons. This year I purchased four items (thanks for the advice mom!) – cake and/or rice cake, fish, green onion, and gai lan (veggies).

Cake
Cake/nian gao is a homonym for “higher year.” Hope MG gets a promotion soon *fingers crossed with my cake*

I bought sticky rice cake, and I also baked a Japanese cheesecake. Have you had a Japanese cheesecake before? It’s so delicious and fluffy! Recipe to come soon.

Fish
“Let there be fish every year.” Fish is a homonym for surplus.

Yup, that’s Chubs. He licked my fish a few times… Hope that’s okay in Chinese standards…

Veggies
Onions are a homonym for smartness, and gai lan is to do away with laziness.

Look at all my Chinese New Year treasures! I’m going to make a delicious meal tonight!

Items

These are just a few things that I’ve started to carry over after I got married. Does your family have annual traditions? Will you share those traditions with your kids? Do share!

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone reading!
Jay

  

Baked Broccoli Chicken Rice Cups

I love baking!

Not just sweets, but savory foods too. I absolutely love making things in muffin pans. So easy to take on the go and to give away as treats too. It’s my new favorite thing to do!

I recently made some baked broccoli & chicken rice cups (with lots and lots of cheese) that I must share with you! Scrumptious little things!

Baked

It’s really the perfect recipe because I always have leftover rice in the fridge. I seem to always make too much of a starch since it expands. I make too much pasta. I mash too many potatoes. I cook too much rice. I could feed a family of 10! In my case, MG and I have leftovers for a week. Oops! Does that happen to you too? What’s a good trick/tip to measuring the right amount?

Anyway, back to these little cups! It’s a really simple recipe (5-steps), and I promise you’ll eat more than one!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 medium broccoli crown
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup ranch salad dressing
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese (I chose cheddar, but feel free to use your favorite kind)
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Cut the broccoli crown into smaller than bite-size pieces, then cook the broccoli either by steaming or boiling. I like to do a quick boil (3-5 minutes tops). Drain the broccoli and set aside.
3. Mix together all the ingredients, but only half the cheese.
4.  Fill each of the muffin pans with the mixture, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Put the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crisp.

Once the cups are ready, scoop each out and serve! Eat away!

MixMixing it all together

RawReady to go in the oven! 

Close up
Cooked and ready to be eaten

Final
Perfect cups! ^^^

Is this something you can do? What are some other recipes that you’ve come across/made in a muffin pan?

Happy eating,
Jay

  

New running shoes!

After watching Katie and Baldwin run the half marathon (Disney half here), MG and I were encouraged to start running.

Why right? Ugh, who likes to run? I’m with you. I HATE running. You know those people that tell you “once you’re over the hump, you will love to run.” I hated those people (perhaps hate is a strong word… umm no it’s correct).

But I have to admit, maybe it’s not as bad as I thought. I could barely run down the block before, but I am proud to say I can run a mile now and easily cool down because my breathing is back to normal in no time. I can even run three miles now! Yay!

MG and I thought some new shoes might motivate us to run some more. We actually visited a running store in Campbell called The Running Revolution (4.5 stars and $$ on Yelp, not too bad, so we went to check it out). I’m SO glad we came here! The employees are super knowledgeable and avid runners themselves. They put you on a scale to see how you balance your weight on your feet, film you while you run, then you try on a bunch of shoes and run in them outside. Basically, they recommend shoes that fit your running habits and then you choose which ones are most comfortable for you.

I found out that I was an entire shoe size off! I also have “arches so strong they are tipping me over to the side” (word for word). Fortunately, MG and I don’t have any bad running habits – no buckling of knees and no strange footing. The employee told us, “nothing is stopping us from running.” If he was just trying to sell me shoes, I ate everything he was saying and ended up buying these beauties!

Asics Nimbus 15  – Super comfortable!

Running shoes
^^ left and right socks – crazy right?

The right pair of running shoes makes all the difference. If anything hurts (achilles heel, knee, arches), most of the time it’s because your shoes are not giving the right support and/or you’re wearing the wrong size. It’s extremely important to buy good shoes if you run frequently.

These shoes have made a drastic change. It’s still not easy to run, definitely not as easy as runners describe it to be. But I do believe that once I build up my stamina, I could, maybe, start to enjoy running.

It’s time to admit, I don’t hate running like I used to in the past. I don’t love it right now, but I am trying to enjoy it. I’m one step closer for sure! Ask me in another month how I feel about it.

Do you run? What encourages you to do it? What are some tips on building stamina? What kind of running shoes do you wear?

Advise me!
Jay

  

Chubalee’s first bath!

A colossal moment in history! At least in my books!

MG and I gave Chubs a bath for the first time! We always joke that his head smells funny. MG says it’s cause he has stinky breath, but I think it might be because I kiss him too much… True story. Hence the reason why he got washed!

MG had been doing some research on bathing techniques for cats, especially ways to destress the cat during a bath. It was suggested to wash a cat in the sink instead of a bathtub because a tub is synonymous to a never-ending ocean. So we did that.

Chubs and MG

It wasn’t bad! He was calm and didn’t scratch us at all. He meowed about 5 times, but that was it. While I was drying him, he laid on my chest the entire time. If he could talk, “Why… why would you do that? why?”

Baby

I gave him some turkey afterwards as a treat. I think Chubs enjoyed his bath because it was nonstop purring after. He likes to be clean and now he smells so fresh!

Cute

I can’t… this picture is just toooooo fricken cute!

If you have a cat, do you wash him/her? Is it a good or bad experience? And how often?

Cat lady,
Jay

  

Animal Kingdom 2014

My last post on my vacation in Orlando… Still having Disney withdrawals, and MG is still asking when we’ll be going back.

The last theme park we went to was Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom - Balds and Kay

Animal Kingdom Tree
Obligatory Tree of Life picture!

The safari ride will always be on the top of my list, especially after this visit! All the animals were out around noon time. I’ve seen everything at the zoo before, so nothing new, but it’s so much cooler to see animals a safari ride in fictional Africa.

Safari Ride

Pink HipposPink hippos! 

Giraffe
Up close and personal ^^^ This giraffe walked right towards me! The driver had to drive faster in order to avoid the giraffe hitting the truck.

We also took a train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and had some fun in the petting zoo section. Donkeys, goats, lambs, deer, and a pig! The animals enjoyed being brushed.

Animal Kingdom Pig
I’ve never touched a piggy before ^^^

We went on the Dinosaur ride, and there’s a surprise element (I won’t spoil it). Of course the picture is taken at this time, so here’s what we looked like:

TRex ride
MG just smirks, I scream, Balds hides, and Kay grips. Haha!

Most of this park is all about conservation – differences we can make in order to preserve our natural environment. They have added a Wilderness Explorer program for kids to go around the park and gain badges (anyone know where this is from?).

DING. DING. DING.

From Pixar’s Up.

Up
We got to meet Russell and Dug ^^^

Oh yeah, and some of you want to know what we ate right? We had chow mein in Asia (super craving Chinese food at this point in our vacation). And MG had his first turkey leg, EVER! That’s cray, cause I basically grew up eating turkey legs in Texas!

Turkey leg
Monumental moment ^^^

It was such a great vacation! Every time I turn on the TV, I see ads for Disney parks or Universal, and it makes me reminisce my time in Orlando. I think the next time we go will be in a few years, and who knows, maybe I’ll have kids by then. It’ll be a totally different experience from this trip, where it was all about food and rides! Damn, am I going to be that parent that just stands in line for an hours to see characters?

If you’ve been to Disney World before, which park was your all time favorite? And why?

Now I must plan my next vacation…
Jay

  

Hollywood Studios 2014

Catching up on sleep and exercise since I’ve been back from my vacation!

Last week I ran my longest yet – a total of 3 miles without stopping. Ever since our trip to Orlando to support my sister and her boyfriend’s half marathon, MG and I have been thinking about doing the Disneyland half this August. We’re starting to train now. Proud of running 3 miles since one month ago I couldn’t run a block. My goal is to run further at a steady pace. Since I’ve been running, I’m also in need of some good shoes. Any recommendations?

My adventures from Disney continue! Today it’s all about Hollywood Studios. Personally, this was my least favorite park. Not because it was a bad park, but the other ones outshine this one. This is more for shows and doesn’t really have too many rides. The top rides here were Tower of Terror, Rock’n Roller Coaster (Kay’s favorite ride), and Toy Story Mania!.

Tower of Terror
MG, whatcha lookin at?

Rock n Roller Coaster
Yay! Baldwin went on this ride – Monumental!

CandylandThe Toy Story line is so cute! Lots of childhood games all across the walls and floors.

Funny story – I took bread, peanut butter, and jam from our hotel breakfast so that we could save some money and eat sandwiches instead of theme park food. While we were in line for the Toy Story ride, I got really hungry at the beginning of the line and it was going to be a 60 minute wait… So I busted out with bread, a knife, and started to spread the PB&J. Genius right? Too bad I was totally roasted for this, by MG, Kay, and Balds. They were so embarrassed of me, but yet everyone ate a sandwich. HMPH. I think I actually saved y’all from starvation… Just sayin.

But around lunch time we ended up going to 50s Prime Time Cafe  and spent $120 on lunch! Everyone said I deprived them of real food so they overcompensated! Not my fault!

Though I have to admit, lunch was the best part about this park!!! It was all homestyle, comfort, diner food – PB&J shakes, fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes. The waitress will tell you “Welcome home, set the table with silverware, and elbows off the table.” Food was SO good, Aunty M was a fantastic waitress, and the design of this restaurant is flippin’ amazing! Everything has a 50s feel. The waiting room is set like a living room with black and white TVs. Even the dessert menu can be seen through a View-Master toy!

50s Prime Time

50s Prime Time - Lams

Yes, food coma after. The boys didn’t want to share entrees. We ordered four dishes, 2 appetizers, and 3 drinks. Too full to move after… Thankfully while we ate such an extravagant meal indoors, we were able to get out of the rainstorm.

The highlight of Hollywood Studios – 50s Prime Time Cafe. Hands down! I think this is MG’s all time favorite restaurant! He loves this era and diner food.

Hollywood Studios Night

Have you been to this park? What’s you favorite ride here?

Love,
Jay

  

Epcot & Downtown Disney

Every day MG talks about going back to Disney! It truly is the happiest place on earth, unless you’re super hungry. There were definitely times we were frustrated and took our anger out on Katie. Why Katie? No idea, maybe cause she’s easiest to pick on!

The first Disney theme park we went to was Epcot. I always remembered this park as the “boring” one so didn’t have high expectations for it. BUT now that I’m older, this park is amazing! The techie stuff is much more interesting now since I can appreciate electronics. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the Innoventions portions, but I’m sure it’s a great hands on experience.

Epcot - Daytime

One of my favorite rides at Epcot is Mission: Space. Basically it’s a shuttle stimulator that allows you to feel 0 gravity as if you were in space. In the past I could feel the ride spinning, so I knew how the ride worked. But I think they must have upgraded their rides this time around!

There are two levels of intensity. Baldwin and Kay rode the easy one. MG and I decided to go to the intense training because I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to anymore since we’re getting old! As you wait in line, speakers remind you that if you feel motion sickness, do not ride. This was repeated 10 times throughout our 15 minute wait. Kinda freaky already right? Then as we’re getting strapped into the tight compartment, there are throw up bags easily accessible. Nervous at this point… As the ride is about to launch, there is cold air blowing onto my forehead. MG said it’s a good thing because you want to feel fresh air if you get dizzy (in the end, I’m glad that was there!). When the shuttle landed on Mars, MG and I hoped that we wouldn’t have to go back to earth and that the ride was over (we said this out loud and two kids laughed at us). Thankfully the ride was over! Mission Space is so well done. Except after the ride, MG told me he almost blacked out. And I couldn’t stop burping cause I felt nauseous. That’s when you know you’re old! Fortunately, we kept our lunch in! Even though the after effects weren’t fun, I can’t stop thinking about how real this ride felt (or at least to how I would think being an astronaut felt like).

What makes this park even more awesome? Epcot is  a foodies dream come true! The second portion of Epcot tours countries of the world. To name a few, Mexico, India, China, Japan, Germany, Norway, Italy, France, and a few others. Most of these places showcase tourist attractions and more importantly, food! We were so food-happy that we barely took any pictures at this park.

In the past, it was about saving money at theme parks. Eat simple, grab a burger and fries, and then go to the next ride. But we have money from working now, so we splurged on all kinds of foods! First we grabbed egg rolls, baked pork buns, and a chicken curry pastry from China (don’t laugh, we missed Chinese food). You know it’s good Chinese food when you see four Asians on the bench eating at the Chinese food stand! Then we got Udon in Japan, lamb gyro from Morocco, French pastries and lobster bisque. Then we got Werther’s caramel popcorn and apple in Germany, and lastly, had fish and chips, lamb casserole, and corned beef in the UK. So many different foods in ONE place! Tell me that’s not your dream come true! I wanted to get the dry-aged bone-in rib eye too, but maybe that’s overboard… just maybe.

By the way, I have a pro-tip for you if you ever go to Epcot. The firework and laser show starts at 9pm. Instead of standing up during the whole show (remember, you’ve been walking all day already), go eat at Rose & Crown Pub in the UK. If you sit outdoors, you can enjoy dinner while watching the show. It’s one of the few restaurants next to the lake, and the waiters will roll up the vinyl curtains just for your viewing pleasure. Totally worth it!

Germany
Caramels in Germany ^^^

Epcot DinnerPRO-TIP:  Eating in the UK while watching the firework show. Looks like Katie’s head is on fire!

Epcot - Night
Night view of Epcot

Then we went to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom for the next two days. These will be featured in my next two posts.

On the last day, Kay and Baldwin ran the half marathon (posted here), and we took it easy that day by taking a nap and going to Downtown Disney.

Funny story is that we were in the massive Disney store, and MG decided he wanted a cookie. He picked up a Mikey cookie, and we went to go find Katie and Baldwin. 2 minutes later, I turn around and he’s gone missing. I eventually find him at the cookies again, and he’s looking for the heaviest/largest cookie he could find. He didn’t chose a cookie based on design, like a normal human being, he decided to look for the biggest cookie, like a true fatty. He ended up getting Ariel because her hair is big so there’s some extra cookie there!

Ariel cookie
My true fatty <3

The LEGO store is always a fun one to go to. Next time I’m in Orlando, I want to go to LEGOLAND.

Lego - Hulk

Lego - Toy Story
Baldwin’s favorite movie ^^^

Found these awesome treats, or should I say poisonous…

Poison Apples
So stinkin’ cute ^^^

It’s rare to eat well when at theme parks, but it’s very possible as you can tell from our trip to Epcot! Have you been to this theme park? What are your favorite things to do here? What country is your favorite to visit/eat?

I miss Disney,
Jay

  

Universal Studios 2014

Reminiscing about vacation… Having withdrawals…

I’ve been waking up at 6am every morning since we haven’t adapted from East Coast time. MG will make a joke and even say “it’s time for Disney!” Then we’ll both be sad.

I have a ridiculous amount of pictures, all from various iPhones. Nothing top notch, high quality since carrying a camera around a theme park is too much responsibility, not to mention dangerous to the camera. I’m going to break up the vacation into two parts – Universal Studios (short post) and Disney parks (photo dump!).

This post will be dedicated to Universal Studios, without The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was most epic (posted here). We spent the first two days of our vacation at Universal Studios. All four of us didn’t take many pictures cause we were so excited about the rides and shows. Typically people buy a one day pass to go to both Universal parks, but we took it slow and did one park a day. No regrets here! We were so tired by the first day, we ended up going to be at 9pm.

Universal Studios

First day we went to the main theme park. The new Minion ride and Transformers ride is AWESOME. I also really enjoyed the Rockit roller coaster, where you immediately start upwards at what feels like a 90 degree angle. Funny thing is one of our favorite part of the day was the Horror Makeup Show, a comedy where two women explain how scary movie make up is done, improv style. You’re old when you enjoy the show more than the rides! “One, Two, Three, QUESO!”

Kay-Jay MinionHis face ^^^

Minion MeMinion Jay

MG Donut
Lard Lad Donuts from Simpsons!!! We devoured it in about 10 minutes between four of us!

Universal - SF
Looks like we’re home, but it was just a set at the park

Optimus Prime
Just hanging out with Optimus ^^^

Day two we went to Islands of Adventures, but it was in the 30s. SO COLD. We bundled up and wore 3 jackets each! Glad we were prepared or the day would have been miserable. Again, the highlight of this park was Harry Potter World. We basically didn’t get pictures of anything else… Nothing could beat the fabulous HP World.

Bundled Up

In the morning, all the roller coasters were shut off since it was too cold. Employees said that they needed to test out the rides to ensure it was safe since metal can contract in cold weather. Thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon, and it hit 40’s so the roller coasters opened up. Hulk is one of my favorite rides, same for my sister. MG loves the 3D Spiderman ride here. Baldwin likes the Dr. Seuss rides (clearly he’s not much of a roller coaster person).

Have you been to Universal Studios in Orlando? What are some of your favorite rides?

All in great fun!
Jay

  

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

If you’ve been reading along, you know I’ve been in Orlando, Florida! This was a trip to celebrate my birthday and also to support my sister and her boyfriend in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

Gang

RunnersKay and Balds with their medals ^^^

I’m finally back in the Bay Area as of Sunday afternoon, and I can’t wait to crawl into my own bed and cuddle with my kitty. Vacation is always fun, but I will always choose my own pillow, bed, and comfort food, for me that’s Chinese food. MG and I are both happy to be back!

On Saturday, my sister, Kay, and her boyfriend, Baldwin, ran in the half marathon (that’s 13 miles!). I’m so proud of them for completing the run. After watching them, I’m actually intrigued and am thinking about training to run a half myself. I hate running, but after this experience, I could learn to love it.

I have to admit, it’s my first time being a spectator at one of these things. And wow, it’s an awesome experience! Everyone comes together to cheer for the participants. There’s so much encouragement and love from a group of random strangers. Specifically at the Disney marathon, at each mile marker, there are characters in costume cheering for you, choirs singing, and even DJs spinning. At the end of the race, Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck are waiting for you at the finish line.

BaldwinBaldwin running past the 12 mile marker

KatieKatie running past the 12 mile marker

Done
Passed the finish line!

With Pluto

Then we bumped into this guy – Ivan! He lives in the Bay Area too and we randomly bumped into him at the end of the race, so good to see him there.

Ivan

If you run this race, you’ll be spoiled for sure and won’t want to run another one. I didn’t know this race was so exciting; I’m contemplating on running the half in LA at Disneyland. Any one do this before?

Do you have a half or full marathon on your bucket list? Any tips on how to enjoy running?

What did you do this weekend?
Jay

  

Chicken Fig Salad

Have you decided to eat healthier, lose some of that holiday weight? Cause I am, and I’m in the same boat with you! After my month long vacation, I’ve gotten a bit pudgier. Ugh.

I’m still in Orlando, but I can’t wait to get home and get back into a regular diet. I always tell myself to control the sweets intake around the holidays, but it’s so hard! It’s a test, and I always fail. Anyone with me?

I wanted to share my favorite salad with you. It’s extremely easy to do. What? A salad? I’m never full off a salad… I know, I’ve thought the same way. But this one has chicken and an egg, and you’ll be satisfied. Give it a try, and it won’t disappoint.

Salad

Ingredients: Cooked chicken breast, salad mix (I like to use a spring mix or spinach salad), fried egg, figs, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

Directions: On your plate, add salad mix, bite size pieces of chicken breast, slivers of fresh figs, a fried egg, feta cheese, and now sprinkle a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar (a little vinegar goes a long way).

Fig

If you’re having trouble finding figs, check out Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s. If figs aren’t available, other great fruit options are strawberries, apple slices, and blue berries. Bleu cheese can also replace feta if you want a stronger cheese.

Salad

Want to be extra healthy? Make a cup of sweet green juice and add that chia!

What do you think of this salad? Do you have a scrumptious (but also filling) salad recipe?

Onto healthy eating (when I get back into the Bay),
Jay