Thursday, January 27, 2011

Comfort Chinese Food - Yes, it does exist!

To my many fans out there (hahaha); I'm back!!!! This one's for you Mary! And Tiff :-P

This dreadful weather has given me a serious case of cabin fever this winter.  So many neglected cute outfits hanging in my closet and fabulous boots hidden away in boxes because it's just too freakin' cold to get dressed to go out.  All of the nights spent eating in has gotten me to really try some new dishes.  Not just any dish, but comfort Chinese food.  Yes, just like southern people have their fried chicken and collard greens, we have our thousand year old egg and pork congee (don't worry, it's not really a thousand years old), white rice with char siu (barbecued pork) and soy sauce (highly suggest Maggi or Golden Mountain, non of that Kikkoman crap from Stop and Shop), a big bowl of noodles with homemade wontons (not your frozen LingLing dumplings from Costco), oh the list just goes on and on... But tonight's specialty is beef ho fun with the saltiness of the oyster sauce, the tenderness of the beef, the soft consistency of the ho fun (noodles), and the crunchiness of the bean sprouts.

I actually looked up a few recipes online to make sure I knew what I was doing.  I guess everyone has their own version of it, so I actually decided to just cook on the fly.  Since I've grown up eating this dish at many restaurants in Chinatown, I knew the flavors that I had to achieve.  It's actually really simple, the ingredients consist of: minced garlic, sliced onions, bean sprouts, sliced beef, fresh ho fun, oyster sauce, sesame oil (just a touch), and some fresh ground black pepper.  Oh, and also, I decided to cook this dish without oil - instead I used chicken stock (trying to be healthy here).  It turned out fantastic!  Just as good as Wing Wong's in Chinatown, minus the grease.  Top if off with some Sriracha sauce and a VERY comforting meal on a cold winter night.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Live life and let go...

It's so hard to stick to a regular yoga schedule nowadays.  My weekends have been filled with wedding stuff which is taking me away from my yoga practice!  However, this past weekend was filled with tons of yoga goodness and continued well into the workweek...

Heated vinyasa practice was amazing on Saturday.  My clothes were drenched and drops of sweat continued to drip off and onto the mat.  I took my practice one step further that day and actually achieved the scissor pose!  (Okay, it lasted for like 3 seconds, but it was still something!)  This isn't me, but this is the scissor pose...

On Sunday, I went to lululemon with my yoga buddy (Doug!) on the Ave in Greenwich and took an awesome class with Gwen Lawrence.  For those of you who are looking to try yoga, but don't know where to start, I'd HIGHLY suggest taking a free class at lululemon.  Yes, you heard right.  FREE!  What in life is free anymore nowadays?!  They're great at showcasing yoga instructors from the area so you truly get a taste of the different styles of teaching.  Anyway, Gwen was a great instructor; very precise in her explanations and really pushed you to the edge.  

That's the thing I love about yoga, every class takes you one step further and that much deeper into your practice.  You're able to learn new things about your body as well as things that you knew before but continue to strengthen each and every time.

A common phrase that I often hear my instructors say at the end of class is "Live life and let go...."  One day, I hope to be able to achieve that life... To just truly live and love my life, no regrets, no grudges, and no negative energy.  I wonder if this is ever possible, but there is a glimmer of hope that this does exist.  I at least know that this world exists every time during my 75 minute yoga classes :-)

And now, I'll leave you with my favorite pose of the week... Crow pose (also known as Bakasana).  This time, the picture is of me :-) Still working on the pose, but I'm getting there!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fresh Basil

I was watering the plants the other morning (my parents were away on vacation) and noticed the crisp aroma of the basil plant in the backyard.  The plant was towering over all of the others and was overflowing with vibrant green leaves.  I crouched down near the plant and took a sharp inhale and took in the wonderful smell of the fresh basil.  Sheer bliss. With a few large, ripe, tomatoes in the fridge, I knew exactly what I wanted to make for dinner that night.

I found this easy recipe on the Food Network, courtesy of Ina Garden, but added some sliced mushrooms, a mix of dried Italian herbs, and fresh basil.  Not only did I have this for dinner that night, but it also served its purpose for my lunch for the rest of the week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A burning sensation... my mouth!

After a long day at work and coming home around 8pm, I was debating whether I was in the mood to cook something or just eat leftovers.  Definitely didn't feel like cooking something (for just myself), so I poked around in the fridge for leftovers, but nothing seemed appealing.  Since my parents are away, I can basically eat whatever the heck I want!  And so I did.  I had a piece of leftover chocolate cake first, and then made myself a delicious bowl of instant noodles. 

This is by far my favorite kind of instant noodles.  So good that sometimes Tiff and I make it at midnight on Saturday night because the craving is just too strong and needs to be satisfied.  (I know, we're such rebel daughters, making instant noodles late on a weekend night... Sorry M&D)  Anyway, the noodles are so smooth and soft and the broth is so salty and spicy... definitely makes your taste buds tingle.

So all in all, a delicious dinner and cheap too!  Got a box of 20 from Costco for $9.99.  That's $0.49 a pack! A $0.49 dinner; what a deal.  Unfortunately, not that great for the body, so definitely will need to go to yoga tomorrow to balance it out...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seafood, seafood, and more seafood!

I love seafood.  That would probably be an understatement, actually.  I crave seafood at all times... cold and raw slices as served by the sushi chef, warm and lightly pan seared on the pan, soft and baked to perfection in the oven; it's just so utterly delightful and scrumptious.

Today was a seafood day and now my tummy is extremely happy :-)

First meal: Lunch at Taste of Asia in New Canaan, CT.  They also offer dimsum on the weekends for about $3-$4 a plate.  Same taste as a restaurant in Chinatown minus the headache of getting out to Manhattan!

Not seafood, but started off with a refreshing plate of seaweed salad.

Then onto a nice hot plate of shrimp pad thai.  The noodles were of the perfect consistency and the dish had a little kick of spice to it.

And of course, no meal at an Asian restaurant is complete without some delicious sushi.  Four big and thick pieces of yellowtail sashimi accompanied by the "Katie" roll which consists of spicy tuna, crabmeat, avocado, and eel on the inside, topped with crabmeat, tobiko, and scallions.  Talk about a party in your mouth.

Chloe (my adorable niece) loves sushi too... and recently learned to wink ;-)

Second meal of the day: Experimenting in the kitchen and preparing a nice and hearty fish cioppino, perfect for a rainy and breezy night. (Will definitely make this again on a cold and snowy winter night...)  Seafood can definitely get expensive, but stock up on certain frozen goods when on sale and you're good to go.  Frozen seafood still adds valuable flavor to any dish.

A plethora of clams, mussels, shrimp, and swai in a tomato based stock to satisfy the stomach... (courtesy of Bobby Flay)

PS - Happy birthday to my big sis, Annie!!!! A trusting sister, a wonderful mother, and a true inspiration in the kitchen!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Beginnings

After 3 years of working in the corporate industry and basically doing the same thing day in and day out (working, eating, sleeping, mixed with some traveling, yoga, and good eats in between), I've realized how much I miss writing.  English was always my favorite subject and as of late, I've been yearning to find the perfect outlet to express my thoughts. I knew I had to do something with writing especially since my younger sister asked me to help her edit her English essays in which I was overly ecstatic about (perhaps a little bit overjoyed if you ask her).  

My fiance and I were at our favorite Japanese restaurant the other day and I was gushing about the fresh, flavorful, "melt in your mouth" piece of salmon sashimi and he jokingly suggested that I start a blog on restaurant reviews called "Emily's Blog" (he's not very creative, by the way).  We laughed about it and I kind of considered it, but then I thought it was a silly idea and that I didn't have "time for something like that".  That seems to always be my excuse nowadays.  No time, no time. But in reality, this is time that I should really be spending to focus on myself and my true passions.  

So here it is, my blog titled "Balancing wellness, flavors, and the bank account".  The intent is to document my growing yoga practice, food adventures (eating out and eating in), all while trying to maintain a manageable budget.  Here goes....