Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SIGG Water Bottles

I've been on the search for durable water containers ever since I realized how much plastic is wasted in our household. I received a Nalgene bottle from a sports event but I wanted another one that was pretty to look at. Also, since my Nalgene bottle is a light lime color...it looks like I'm drinking urine sometimes. I know, not the image I want to have in my mind while I'm drinking water!

But I think I found something ultralight weight, durable, and completely recyclable! It's called My Sigg! The interior lining is 100% effective against leaching and combats residue-buildup. I also love how the liner prevents bacteria from building up as well! So you will always drink the clean taste of your beverage. Even better, there are different and cool designs. This one here is butterfly on a purple background. Cute!

The product line also features thermoses, flasks, as well as sports bottles. They also make kids products. It's perfect since the bottles are so durable, leakproof and suitable for all types of beverages. (Ever hate it when you fill a water bottle with juice but then can never get rid of the taste after you rinse it out? Ick.)

Click here to go to the website and purchase your own eco-friendly bottle!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Restaurant Review: Morimoto NYC

From Karen's Kitchen:

Happy Birthday to ME!

I requested Morimoto as the restaurant for my birthday dinner. At first, I was hesitant about going.... would the bill really burn a hole in his wallet (which would affect me, as well!)? would i be daring enough to try the omakase menu? You know... stupid things to stress about. But, hey, its my birthday and i'm not paying! My better half told me that I could go anywhere I wanted.... and so we did!

I was hoping that Masaharu Morimoto, the Japanese Iron Chef, would be there -- i was so happy that he was! We had an early reservation (5:30pm) to avoid the crowds -- i heard that some patron sat at tables where they were right next to their neighbors. Luckily, because of the time of our reservation, we had our own lil table, seperated from the row of tables where you could feel your neighbor breathing on you.

Omakase (お任せ) is a Japanese phrase that means "It's up to you" (from 任す, entrust). The expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef. It differs from ordering à la carte. The chef will generally present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to heaviest, richest dishes. The phrase is not exclusive to service of raw fish with rice, and can incorporate grilling and simmering as well. Customers ordering omakase style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance by the chef. [wikipedia.com]

Please excuse the poor photography. I used my point & shoot without the flash. My omakase consisted of:

Toro tartare with rice crackers & assorted dipping sauces

I liked this dish a lot, especially the rice crackers (bottom row, right) and the lil fruit that was on the (left) side. I forgot the name of the fruit. This was fun to eat too -- they give you this lil metal spatula to eat with (pictured in the bowl of ice, on the far right, camouflaged by my cup of tea).

Kampachi sashimi

With the ginger, scallion & soy dressing, i thought i was eating steamed fish w/ginger & scallions... didnt even notice that the fish was raw.

Sashimi & salad

Forgot the name of the fish, but it was very fresh and slightly seared. The salad had a very nice & light vinigrette.

Smoked salmon raviloli

There were actually 2 raviolis in there.

Sushi of the day

From the left, the first one was fluke, second was fatty tuna. I forgot what the third & fourth were. The fifth was seared eel.

Honeydew matcha shot (with coconut foam on top)

This is actually considered a course, to cleanse your palate and prepare for the main course. I was full by this time, and I wasnt done yet. My main course was next!

Cajun grilled lobster w/crème fraîche dipping sauce


and
Steak with sweet potatoes


Of course, there was dessert, too!

Chestnut ice cream (left) and steamed pumpkin pudding cake

I should have only ate the cake. I think eating the ice cream was definitely TOO much!

My other half had:
Gyoza

I forgot what the top layer was, but under there, were 5 gyozas on top of a tomato bacon sauce. This would have been fine with soy sauce instead of the tomato sauce.

And his main course was:
16 oz. wagyu ny strip



The omakase menu consists of A LOT of food. You would think that the small dishes wouldnt be filling, but they were. I was impressed. I enjoyed it a lot. The food was great! The service was great. We're definitely going to go back soon, but I'll order something else on the menu.... there's so much more to try!





88 10th Avenue
(btwn 15-16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011
212.989.8883


Photo by Alex di Suvero for The New York Times

Sponge Cake Roll with Strawberries

I was treated to a delicious dessert over the weekend by our good friends Yu-ori. She mentioned that her oven was finally fixed so she could start baking again! Yipee. One of her first recipes was a sponge cake roll filled with whipped cream and strawberries. Now, this was something that I had to taste because I would actually make this for myself. She said it wasn't difficult to make. Sadly she didn't take any pictures during her baking process but she'll share her recipe with me next time. So stay tuned!

Overall, the sponge cake roll was delicious. The sponge cake itself was nice and sweet. It tasted better the first day I had it, because once I ate the refrigerated leftovers, it didn't taste *as* good. Surprisingly, I loved the whipped cream because it was also sweet but not overly sweet. I enjoyed my first piece because it was an end piece with all the strawberries! The picture above was a piece of the cake from the middle (thus less strawberries).

Jander suggested stuffing the sponge cake with other food items for example, cream cheese! smoked salmon! in order to make a taste like a Philadelphia roll. Or even a large futomaki roll. haha. I had more reasonable suggestions - mixed berries! melons! chocolate sprinkles!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie Review: Gran Torino

Did you know that Gran Torino is actually the name of an automobile -- a Ford Classic? I didnt... not until I was told. As part of my birthday celebration (of dinner and a movie), we set out to see Gran Torino, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. From the tv commercials, i thought this movie was going to be about how Eastwood takes on an Asian (Hmong) gang. In way it was about that. It was also about the car. But there was more.... much more. Eastwood plays a hardass, racist, miserable, sorry-excuse for a man, who's dialog is hysterically funny at times. He just lost his wife and his family is out to send him to a senior home. He lives in a poor neighborhood where it seems as if he's the only white American left. I dont want to give anymore away... there is a synopsis below.

The movie was slow at first, and then towards the end, moved too fast. This was a very intriguing movie, which I enjoyed a lot. There was comedy, drama, suspense and also, tears! All-in-all I give this 5 stars. It should have been on the Oscar list but I can see why this wasn't nominated -- it was TOO entertaining!

Moviefone synopsis: A racist war veteran living in a crime-ridden neighborhood is forced to confront his own lingering prejudice when a troubled Hmong teen from his neighborhood attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. The two objects that matter most to Kowalski in life are the classic Gran Torino that represents his happier days working in a Ford assembly plant, and the M-1 rifle that saved his life countless times during combat. When Kowalski's teenage neighbor attempts to steal his Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation rite, the old man manages to catch the aspiring thief at the business end of his well-maintained semi-automatic rifle. Later, due to the pride of the Asian group, the boy is forced to return to Kowalski's house and perform an act of penance.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

L'Occitane Immortelle Precious Cream

Due to the overwhelming popularity of my food and beauty blog, I've received requests for being a guest blogger. I'd like to introduce to everyone, Karen, a fellow lover of food and beauty products! She has previously appeared on my blog in which I've used some of her food recipes - most recently, the delicious coconut macaroons! But here she is writing about one of her favorite beauty products. Hope to hear from you again soon, K!

Winter in NYC wreaks havoc on my skin. My face is ultra dry. I used Philosphy's Hope in Jar for about two months. After that, i noticed it wasn't working as well on my skin. Maybe the weather was THAT cold & drying. A friend recommended L'Occitane Immortelle Precious Cream. This is what L'Occitane's site writes about the cream:

The Immortelle flower defies aging - it never wilts or withers, even after being picked. Microcapsule technology concentrates hand-harvested essential oil of Immortelle, which grows in the sunny Mediterranean island of Corsica, in a formula that helps to boost microcirculation and increase collagen synthesis. A velvety, patented-ingredient moisturizer with proven wrinkle-reducing benefits. For normal to dry skin.

What can i say except: "WOW!" Exactly what the reviews on Sephora say! This is truly a very hydrating & moisturizing cream. It works wonders. I've been using this for about a week now, and notice a considerable difference. I put it on at night before I go to bed... my skin feels soft immediately. It absorbs quickly and there's no greasy residue whatsoever. I wake up in the morning and it still feels soft. I can skip my daycream now. It really works that well! Oh, and the scent is nice too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Twilight Series

In honor of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and the subsequent movie, I decided that I was fascinated enough by the make-up in the movie to see what is available in terms of 'glitter' cosmetics. Hey, if it's good enough to make a vampire look attractive, I think it can do wonders for a plain Jane like myself. One of my favorite places to go to puruse for beauty supplies is Sephora. And here is one of their personal brands for a Silver Glitter Spray for the body and hair. (Click on the image to go directly to the product on the website). A precaution for this product is that it is extremely flammable and dangerous for the eyes (this last warning is a bit obvious but nevertheless, important to be stated).



This is also an interesting product. The bareMineral's Glimmer provides a subtle shade of sparkle to the face and body. It can bring a touch of highlights to your current make-up palette. I am personally a big fan of Bare Escentuals cosmetics. (Hello! I went to Times Square's Sephora just to see Leslie last year!) I love how she has expanded the product line to include so many complimentary products to the foundation color and blush. The kubuki brushes are fantastic for applying color to the face so that it is natural and beautiful. For pops of color, the product also comes in Azure (peacock blue), Envy (pale lime), Sex Kitten (golden mahagony) just to name a few!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pork Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce

Here's what I cooked for Jander last night. I was going to take another picture of it but he already gobbled it up before I could do so. I love this dish because it is very easy to make and always tastes delicious. Also, the sauces that I use are strong enough so that I don't need to marinate the pork beforehand.

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs of pork spareribs, usually 6 strips (cut so each piece has a bone)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
few slices of ginger root (you can skip this but it gives the dish a nice heat flavor)

and most importantly:

Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce (I use this sauce to make any dish spicy!)

Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce


Directions: Heat up some oil in a pan with the garlic and ginger. Brown the pork spareribs and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of each sauce in the pan (depending on your taste). Add some water to the pan to cook the meat thoroughly, at least 15 minutes.

Notes: Since it's almost impossible to overcook pork, it doesn't matter how long you cook it. The more water you add, the more it will dilute the sauces. I've seen people who use soy sauce or worchester sauce but I love the taste of black bean sauce with pork!

Also, to make this dish leaner, you can boil the pork in a pot of hot water. This will cook out the fat drippings. Drain out the water and then place in the oiled pan with garlic and ginger.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cosmetic Class Action Settlement - UPDATE


As I mentioned in this previous post, the class action settlement suit at major retail stores were handing out free make-up to any past customer. Basically, anyone who is willing to wait on line for hour(s) depending on the store location.

Based on anecodotes from my friends in California and New York, the lines were super long. Some stores had to turn away customers an hour before the store closing. And most stores ran out of the good products (aka full size products) early! But luckily, I was able to get two jars of the Clinique Moisture Surge (1 oz in size). While I noticed that many people stood on line several times just to get multiple products, I brought along Jander so he (happily?) obliged in claiming a free make-up sample.

Natural Moisturizers for Dry Winter Skin


The bitter cold weather is doing havoc on my sensitive skin. And despite the lotions that I slather on my body, I still have to deal with dry skin. So I decided to search for some natural remedies that might provide the same moisturizing relief without the chemicals. I thought these would be fun to try on a winter afternoon:

Oatmeal and Yogurt Exfoliant
To create this exfoliant, mix 1 cup uncooked oatmeal and a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt to create an exfoliating paste. Use this as a gentle body scrub to remove dry, flaky skin and dead skin cells. The oatmeal will do the scrubbing while the yogurt does the moisturizing.

Hydrating Facial Mask
In a small bowl, mix an avocado, a raw egg, and a teaspoon of coconut oil to form a creamy paste. Apply the paste to your face and let it work its magic for 25 - 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Raw eggs and avocados contain natural moisturizing proteins, making them a super combo for fresh, luxurious skin. Adding coconut oil provides a boost of antioxidants.

Milk Bath
To make a milk bath, first fill your bathtub with warm water and add up to five cups of rich, whole milk or buttermilk. Light a few candles, turn on some tunes, and soak yourself for twenty to thirty minutes. Milk contains proteins that can help smooth and rejuvenate dry skin.

Enjoy these recipes!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review: Santa Fe Steakhouse Forest Hills


For a local Mexican restaurant in Forest Hills NY, we decided to come here to eat their diverse menu. The menu ranges from grazers (appetizers), ribs & combos, south of the border specialties and burgers/sandwiches which provides everyone plenty of options. We tried the wild onion appetizer ($7.95) which is a large plate of onion rings with a spicy ketchup/mayo dip. Yum! The entrees were good as well but unfortunately we were so full from the bread and tortilla chips to fully enjoy it!

Jander ordered the rib combo with chicken and sweet potatoe fries. The fries were delicious but the ribs were only so-so. Might as well go to Dallas BBQ if you are in the mood for barbeque wings! I ordered the Cozumel Shrimp ($19.95) which is your basic bbq'ed grilled shrimp over a bed of rice and served with a side of steamed vegetable. All the entrees come with the cornbread which I wish was served warm.

Sadly, we didn't have room for dessert so I cannot comment on that. Overall, the restaurant seemed like a popular hang-out for the locals. There are constantly new restaurants in the area but this one has been around for a while.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cosmetic Class Action Settlement - FREE MAKEUP!

As part of a class action settlement, many major retail stores will be handing out up to $25 worth of free cosmetics starting January 20 to each customer. No prior proof of purchase or receipt is required to take part in this settlement offer. All that is required is that the customer show up at the stores and fill out a short form stating that they had bought something at the store during the period of 1994-2004 (no proof required).

Stores include Macy's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, see list below.

- Link to Settlement

This will be a first come, first served event. No rainchecks will be given.

- Bergdorf Goodman
- Bergner’s
- Bloomingdale’s
- Boston Store
- Carson Pirie Scott
- Dillard’s
- Gottschalks
- Herberger’s
- Macy’s
- Neiman Marcus
- Nordstrom
- Parisian
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Younkers

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Daikon Salad Recipe

What is a daikon? Well, it is a Japanese name for a mild-flavored, very large, white, East Asian radish. It is very common in Asian countries and go by different names. Here is a picture for your reference.

Here is a daikon recipe salad that serves as a delicious appetizer or side salad:

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated gingerroot
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups diagonally sliced daikonradishes (about3 medium)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (about3 ounces)
1/4 cup sliced green onions, (about2 to3 medium)
6 Bibb lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seed, toasted

Instructions:

Mix the sliced daikon and combine with mushrooms and green onions in a tangy marinade. Shake vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, gingerroot, sesame oil and salt in tightly covered container. Pour over daikon, mushrooms and onions; toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Serve on lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with sesame seed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chickpea Dip Recipe


Here is a hummus recipe courtesy of our friend, Kimball. I've only made the traditional version without the sun-dried tomatoes (I add tahini paste, olive oil and paprika to my recipe) so I was very happy to taste a different twist to the recipe. It's absolutely delicious and very simple to make! This makes a perfect party appetizer and can be served with a side of carrots, celery and pita bread.

Ingredients:

1 can chick peas, drained
4 oz sun dried tomatoes, chopped up
4 cloves of garlic minced
Pinch of salt as needed
1/2 cup of water or low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add more water if needed.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pixibeauty

Here's my latest make-up obsession, the Eye Beauty Kit by Pixibeauty! This is the perfect travel companion because it contains eight coordinated colors for highlighting and shadowing your eyes with a duo eye brush. The brush is perfect for applying the shadow and the other end is perfect for applying the eyeshadow as a liner. I love the thinness of the compact because you can throw it in any purse. The only downside to their eye kits is the poor quality of the mirror.
There are different shades ranging from No. 1 Minimum which includes shades of soft baby pink, light peach, crystal white, camel brown, medium mink brown, rich bitter chocolate brown, deep milk chocolate and black with silver. But here is a great set, No. 9 Smoky which is perfect for creating smoky eyes! Shades include: gold black, matte black liner, deep emerald green, plum liner, bronze, lilac liner, cobalt blue and silver mink.
Their flagship store is located in London (22a Fouberts Place, London W1F 7PW) right off the Oxford Circus stop.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Pork Tenderloin Roast


Am I finally finished with posting up all the food pictures that I cooked over the holidays? No! Well, here is one more new recipe that I tried out - a delicious mustard and garlic crusted pork tenderloin roast. It was very simple to make, all I had to do was marinate the pork and pop it in the oven.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 to 1 pound each
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons dried leaf summer savory, or use dried leaf thyme or a combination, such as fines herbes
Dash ground black pepper

Preparation:

Heat oven to 375°. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil. Lightly grease the foil. Trim tenderloins of excess fat and wash; pat dry.
Place the pork tenderloins in the prepared pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Rub over the pork tenderloins (top and sides).
Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, or until pork registers about 155° on a meat thermometer which has been inserted into the center of the thickest part of a tenderloin. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Verdict? It was juicy and flavorful. We also added a dash of Worchester Sauce and chili spices. Too bad everyone was too full to eat the rest of the tenderloin but the leftovers tasted even more wonderful. My coworker even told me to poke the tenderloin with a fork so that the spices and marinade can sink in deeper into the meat. Yum!

Sushi, sushi and more sushi

I wish I could take credit for making this beautiful platter of sushi but this is all due to Sorry-hime's mom! What a wonderful mom, I wish I could have something like this made for me everyday. Featured on this plate include: futomaki (translates to big roll in Japanese), shrimp tempura roll, spicy toro (tuna) roll, eel roll and inari (tofu skins with sushi rice).

And if you're wondering why the platter is still wrapped under the plastic wrap....the reason is, I knew the sushi would be grabbed by 8 pairs of hands so I needed to snap the picture right away!

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Pineapple Stuffing Picture

Here is a picture of my pineapple stuffing recipe. I received many questions along the lines of "What is pineapple stuffing?" "Is it a dessert?" and then comments like "uhm, warm pineapple?" Obviously they didn't read my previous posting on what pineapple stuffing is - it can be a side dish complimentary to pork and ham but also a dessert as well!

The results were mixed among the testers (aka "not bad") but in the future, I will make sure to serve it piping hot! I only reheated it for 5 minutes in the oven. I also should add more bread to the mixture to make it more like a stuffing. But nevertheless, I *will* serve this again in the future for a dinner party!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Coconut Macaroons Recipe and Picture


My holiday baking season is coming to an end and here are a few more blog posts about some of my latest creations. Thankfully I had some willing testers to eat my first-time attempts! First up, are my coconut macaroons which were very simple to make. Coconut-lovers beware, this is your dessert!

The recipe was taken from Karen's Cookies Cakes & More (thank you Karen!!):

Ingredients:
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (14 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut (5 1/3 cups)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (or coat generously with nonstick cooking spray). In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until frothy.With a fork, stir in coconut until moistened. Drop mixture by packed level tablespoons onto prepared sheet (cookies will not spread). Bake until lightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

I actually halved the recipe because I forgot that I needed 14 oz of coconut flakes! The supermarket sold the flakes in bags of 7 oz so I only purchased one bag. I went with the unsweetened flakes because I figured that I was already adding sugar into the recipe. Also, I used a very small cookie scooper to make my mounds so I only needed to bake them for 15 minutes. I recommend checking them in the oven for the right golden coloring! My first batch was a little over cooked after 18 minutes (aka burned) but still edible.

Verdict? Very tasty and easy to make. They tasted great out of the oven and also after they've cooled for several hours. I can't say about next day edibility because they were all gone at my taste-testing. Jander says that macaroons are normally more solid and made with a cookie dough as well. Please comment if you have any suggestions...

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