Life Lately #2

~ I’ve been planning a monthly Girls’ Brunch for a few girl friends and I for about a year now. It’s nice to get together and catch up in between the normal hustle and bustle of life! There is an abundance of places that serve brunch in Salt Lake City, and we are usually able to try a new place every month. I’ll be starting a new series of posts called Girls’ Brunch soon, beginning with our upcoming Chinese New Year celebration of dim sum!

~ I’ve recently introduced the Alien franchise to Mr. Munchimunch. The only movies he’s ever watched of the series were Alien vs Predator and Prometheus. So far, we’ve watched Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection. Next up will be Alien vs Predator, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, and Prometheus. (If I had a choice, we would have skipped Resurrection and maybe the AvPs. Maybe we’ll continue with the Predator series next?) We can’t wait for Alien: Covenant! This series is such a classic and I’m so glad to be able to share this with him.

~ As a present to my mom, I’ve been sorting through baby girl’s photos and videos and compiling the best of the bunch to send over to her. I’ve only been able to get through her first year so far. It’s so amazing to see how much she’s grown and how many milestones she’s surpassed since birth. I may be bias, but she is such a cute and fun child! My heart wants to burst with all the love I feel for this little one of mine…

~ The company I work for is planning a masquerade party for our annual Chinese New Year event. How exciting! I’m not sure of the dress code, but I totally want to splurge on an exquisite ballgown with a fancy lace masquerade mask! hehe

~ We’ve been watching HBO’s Westworld. It’s such an intriguing show with a unique storyline. We only have one more episode left to watch of the first season. How are they going to finish the season and tie up all the loose ends in one episode?! Second season can’t start soon enough! We may have to find the original movies to watch in the meanwhile. Are you currently or have you already watched Westworld? Who is your favorite character?

Life Happenings

Time flies when you’re having fun! So many things have happened in the last few months.

This is more for me than it is for you, my readers, but I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me!

Life Happenings 1

In October, Mr. Munchimunch and I finished fixing up an old Lotus Europa. It was the first time I ever helped reupholster a car’s interior and it was so frustrating for me! The perfectionist in me wanted everything perfect before it was put into the car. I cried more than once. haha

Life Happenings 2

Towards the end of October, Mr. Munchimunch and I joined a few friends for a Mazda car cruise up Ogden Canyon. I absolutely love this shot! How many FDs aka Mazda 3rd Generation Rx7s can you count in my sideview mirror? (No, I am not driving and snapping pictures at the same time. Our FD is right hand drive!)

Life Happenings 3

In November, Mr. Munchimunch and I got married!!! ^_^ We had a small Utah reception for family and friends.

Life Happenings 4

I tried to incorporate a few Chinese influences; including the tradition red and gold colors, changing into a second dress (some ceremonies have more than five dress changes!), and putting my hair into an up do after changing (which signifies being a married woman). We plan on having an east coast reception as well, although that will be in the distant future.

Life Happenings 5

We started our honeymoon in dreary and rainy Florida. Mr. Munchimunch wasn’t feeling well and the weather did not help. Highlights were Kennedy Space CenterWarbird Adventures & The Kissimmee Air Museum, and Acme Superstore.

Life Happenings 6

We continued onto New Orleans. It was love at first step out of our taxi! Highlights included beignets at Café du Monde (not once, but twice!), a small and local Jazz Museum at Algiers Point, and The National WWII Museum.

Life Happenings 7

We spent most of our last day at the museum. I can’t wait to go back to New Orleans!

Life Happenings 8

The last leg of our honeymoon was meeting up with some friends for Sevenstock 2014 in Southern California. But by this time, I was feeling quite under the weather and was holed up in the hotel for almost two days trying to rest up. I lived vicariously through Mr. Munchimunch’s pictures. Check out that Mazda 787!

Life Happenings 9

Near the end of December, Mr. Munchimunch and I discovered why I was under the weather during our honeymoon. We are having a baby girl!!! ^_^ She (and this pregnancy) has been so great to me! We actually had a baby shower this past weekend and our baby girl is so lucky. But there is still so much to do!

Life Happenings 10

In January, I attended Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015. Being pregnant was tiring so there was no dressing up for me, even though I did have a few great ideas. The little guy loved being Batman again. He took pictures with all the villains!

February was a bit relaxing with most of it just cleaning up for Chinese New Years and taking care of myself and baby girl. Of course, there was some celebrating and baking done as well. hehe

And that brings us to March.

Life Happenings 11

Mr. Munchimunch requested cheesecakes for Pi(e) Day. Above is my failed attempted at baking cheesecakes, because neither of us heard the timer! I should mention that I’ve never burned cheesecakes before, so this was a first! >_< While they may look unappetizing, they sure tasted fine!

Life Happenings 12

The rest of March was spent trying to prep our new office/computer room. I wish we took a before shot, a loathsome light pastel canary yellow with all the trim an awful light spring green. We had difficulty covering everything up even with primer! But overall, we are liking the final result. Now, we just have to move everything and prep for baby girl’s room!

Looking back at all the pictures while writing this post made me so very happy. And writing this post really makes me appreciate life.

Life has changed so much in the past six months and life will be changing again drastically in the next six months. I can’t wait!

Thank you for visiting! ^_^

 

Cooking Challenge #10: Oxtail Soup (牛尾汤)

Oxtail soup 牛尾汤 1

While the weather has been ridiculously nice lately in Utah, feeling more like spring rather than winter, we did hit a bit of a cold patch last month. That little bit of chill prompted me to make something warm and cozy.

I remember my mom making a more complex version of this soup, but since I didn’t have all of the ingredients, I opted to make a simple and clean version instead. All this recipe takes is three simple ingredients and a whole lot of time!

The most time consuming part was allowing the soup to simmer to soften up the meat and daikon radishes and coming back every so often to skim the fat off the top of the broth. I didn’t mind at all though. My whole house smelled delicious for hours!

Oxtail soup 牛尾汤 3

Oxtail soup 牛尾汤 4

After a few hours, I was ready to enjoy a mouthwatering bowl of Oxtail Soup. ^_^

I hope you won’t allow the strangeness of oxtails deter you from trying this nutritious soup!

Enjoy~

Oxtail Soup (牛尾汤)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soups
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 3 bowls
Ingredients
  • Approximately 1 lb of oxtails
  • 1 6" x 3" piece of daikon radish
  • 2 liters of water
  • 2 liters of beef broth
Instructions
  1. Fill a small pot with 2 liters of water and allow to boil.
  2. Place the oxtails in the boiling water and blanch for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the daikon radish and chop into bite size pieces.
  4. Remove the oxtails and discard the water.
  5. Fill the same pot with 2 liters of beef broth, oxtails and daikon radish.
  6. Bring the whole mixture to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer.
  7. Every hour or so, return to skim the fat off the top.
  8. Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours to allow the oxtail meat and daikon radish to soften.
  9. Serve while hot.

 

Cooking Challenge #9: Sticky Sweet Rice Rolls or Chi Fan (粢飯)

Lately, I have been thinking about foods my mom use to make for my brother and me when we were younger. It partly had to do with missing family during the holidays and partly to do with my own cravings.

Sticky Sweet Rice Rolls, or Chi Fan (粢飯) as I know it, was something my brother and I use to grow up eating once in a while. While there are different versions that include different fillings like pickled vegetables or meat floss, my mom’s version used Chinese crullers (油條 in Mandarin or 油炸鬼 in Cantonese).

There’s an interesting Chinese tale about the history of Chinese crullers. My mom told me Chinese crullers were created in defiance towards a corrupt Chinese official. The local folk would make human shaped dough sticks to signify the official and his wife. They would then fry the dough sticks, aka the official and his wife, in contempt. Hence the name 油炸鬼 which roughly translates to “oil fried devil/ghost”.

I just did a quick search and it’s even posted on Wikipedia! I wonder how accurate this tale is…

Chinese crullers are a bit hard for me to find here in Utah, but I happily found a package at Ocean Mart. I also picked up the other important ingredient at Ocean Mart, sweet or glutinous rice!

Sticky Sweet Rice Rolls or Chi Fan (粢飯)

Makes 5 small rolls

2 cups cooked sweet or glutinous rice (shown below)
1 package of Chinese crullers (shown below)
white granulated sugar (optional)
plastic wrap

The brand I chose has my maiden name on the packaging. There was no other special reason for me to choose this brand. haha

For the rice

1. Cook 2 cups of rice according to the package.

I absolutely LOVE my Zoijirushi rice cooker (in black and stainless)! It was one out of the two immediate things I bought for my kitchen when we moved in.

For the Chinese cruller

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the Chinese crullers on a cookie sheet, lined or unlined with foil or parchment paper, and bake for about 3-5 minutes. The longer they are in the oven, the crispier they are!
3. Allow to cool before handling.

For the assembly

1. Begin by laying down a piece of plastic wrap. I made each piece around 10″ in width.
2. Take a little less than half a cup of cooked rice and make a thin flat layer in a rectangular shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This layer of rice has to be large enough to wrap around the Chinese cruller.
3. (Optional) Sprinkle some sugar in the center of the rice where the Chinese cruller will be placed.

4. Since each Chinese cruller comes in a double stick, split it in half lengthwise. Cut each single stick in half. Place the piece of Chinese cruller on top of the prepared rice.

5. Wrap the rice entirely around the Chinese cruller. Make sure the wrapping is tight and twist the ends like a candy wrapper and wrap underneath.

6. Serve warm. I normally store them in the refrigerator and pop the in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds to warm them up before eating.

These tiny little rice rolls might not look like much, but they make me so very happy! I devoured these in two days and am looking to make more soon. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, even if not for the same reasons. I can’t wait to share the history and the making of these Sticky Sweet Rice Rolls with my future children. ^_^

Enjoy~

Happy 2015!

Hihi~

It’s definitely been a while. 2014 has come and gone and I’m only just feeling that 2015 has arrived!

This year, I spent New Year’s Eve at home with Mr. Munchimuch, Little Munchimunch, and our friends. We watched Gremlins 1 and 2 while munching on bacon wrapped olives and popcorn and toasted the new year with some bubbly (non-alcoholic for me). It was just what we all needed. =) How did you spend your New Year’s?

Personal life events kept me so busy this past year and caused me to neglect this little blog of mine. =( But I do have a bit more free time (for the next few months at least) and hope to post regularly again!

For now though, I’ll leave you with this quick recipe I tweaked using a recipe for candied walnuts that my friend Yvo from Feisty Foodie sent my way. I made about 4-5 batches of these to give out during Christmas and they were a hit!

Vanilla Candied Nuts

Makes 1 cup

1 cup of nuts of your choosing (I used pecans, but also tried walnuts and almonds.)
2 ½ tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
dash of salt (optional)

1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and sugar over medium heat until melted. Make sure to stir frequently so the mixture does not burn.
2. When the sugar mixture has melted, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
3. Add the nuts and stir until the nuts are evenly coated in the sugar mixture.
4. Once the nuts are evenly coated, transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and quickly separate. (Optional: At this point, I sprinkled some salt over for a sweet and salty combination.)
5. Allow to cool completely before transferring to a container of your choice.

I couldn’t help and steal a handful (or two) while separating the nuts. These are great as a sweet topping for cereal, yogurt, ice cream, or salad…pretty much anything! While these candied nuts will store for a few days in an airtight container, they definitely didn’t last that long for me. =)

Enjoy~