Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hitting the Road

The reason (or excuse) that I've been MIA the past month is because I started traveling for work again.  Some of you may know of my pains from traveling in the past - but I know that God's timing for everything is perfect.  So, I'm rolling up my sleeves and am putting my hope in God once again - trusting Him that nothing we do in this world is for nothing when it's ultimately in worship for my King!  Please pray for me that I can stay positive and keep my eyes on the prize that I know God has in store for me!

With that said, life on the road means that my weekday life must be packed into a suitcase.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to pack a kitchen stove so my dinners recently have been served in plastic boxes and styrofoam plates.  That said, I do try to stay healthy best I can and stay away from Chinese takeout or the major chains you find in abundance out in the American 'burbs.  Lucky for me - there is a Wegman's on the way to the hotel from my client site!! 

For many years, I heard about the wonders of Wegmans.  I finally experienced the beauty of Wegmans first-hand and I must say, that place is wonderful.  It is wonderfully clean, wonderfully stocked, wonderfully staffed, and wonderfully delicious!  It was described to me as: Trader Joe's meets Whole Foods meets Jubilee - and I concur.  It's by far the best grocery store available for suburbanites.  Though my purchases have been mostly from the expansive beer and prepared foods section - this week I discovered a bulk loose leaf tea section.  Beautiful.

Anyway, I still try to find time to cook on the weekends to wind down.  Cooking is very therapeutic for me.  Some say the complete opposite - but I hope you too can find solace in cooking one day!  The 2 things I miss the most when I travel is fried egg (this is surprisingly difficult to find on the road) and just simple brothy noodle soups.  Here's one of my favorite Korean noodle soups: Mak Gooksoo ("Whatever Noodles" - Haha!).  It's healthy and has a clean taste - enjoy!

Cook-to-Eat-to-Be-Happy Time: 20 minutes (or less!)
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4


  • 1 squash
  • 2 large / 3 small carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • Dried anchovies (maybe like 10 fish)
  • Dashima (dried kelp)
  • Kimchi
Alright, let's get cookin...
1. Throw some anchovies (~10), dried kelp ( ~5 pieces) and (I had some leftover onion) into a pot of water and bring to boil.  Salt to taste.  This is the soup base.

1a. Boil another pot of water for your noodles.

2. While soup base boils, chop up and slice (using mandolin) squash, carrots, and onions.

3. Scoop out the anchovies and kelp.

4. Throw in your veggies and simmer (don't over cook or you will eat mush).

 5, Cook your noodles & drain.

5. Make your magic kimchi mix:
  • Chopped kimchi - 1 cup
  • Sesame oil - 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar - 1 teaspoon
  • Sesame seeds - 2 teaspoons
6.  Ladle soup over noodles and top generously with your magic kimchi mix (I was not generous here for the sake of making the picture pretty haha).

7. Eat & Be happy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Super Dinner Rolls

Sorry I've been away for so long - but I'm back!  I just looked at the clock and realized it was daylight savings today!  Spring Forward!  Growing up, my dad was the keeper of the clocks in our house.  But now that I'm out, if it wasn't for wireless devices that update automatically, I don't know if I would ever know about daylight savings.  Thanks iPhone!

It's 9:30, but it feels like 8:30, so I'm just gonna cut to the chase... My colleague described this recipe to me and I made it to my liking and I liked it A LOT.  It's super easy and quick!  It's a bit too simple for dinner or lunch, but it would be great for breakfast or an after-school snack!

Cook-to-Eat-to-Be-Happy Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4

NOTE: Feel free to try your own combo of ingredients.  Spinach, ham, broccoli... all sound yummy!  Think Hot Pockets... whatever you've seen in a Hot Pocket would taste great in these!

1. While your oven is preheating to 350 degrees, fry your ingredients to make the "stuffing"

2. Lightly flour your surface
3. Roll out your dough; gently push any perferations in the dough together to form one large sheet of dough
4. Distribute the stuffing evenly
(4b.) I forgot to sprinkle the cheese here haha - but you should do that.  I forgot, so I sprinkled it on top, which was ok-ay, but I think it would taste better sprinkled inside for the best cheesy effect!

5. Roll it up

6. Cut it up
7. Place onto lightly greased baking sheet

8. Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes (or until slightly brown around the edges) and wallah!  (I had to top mine with cheese, so you can't see the delicious bacon pieces - but trust me - these were YUMMY)
9. Eat & Be Happy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snowboarding Cap

We had our first visit to Hunter Mountain this season yesterday!  We, of course, made our traditional morning Micky D's sausage-egg-cheese McGriddle stop and then headed straight to the mountain. (Apologies for no picture of actual meal... again, scarfed it down before remembering to take picture haha...).  Actually, I have to admit that I have never seen the Golden Arches seared on the top of a McGriddle because I've always scarfed it down so fast!  I didn't even know the delicious syrup-filled top bun masterpiece was branded until I googled it hahaha!  We love McGriddles so much that, in fact, once we refused to eat breakfast for the duration of a 2 hour drive until we finally found a McDonald's.  We're very serious about our McGriddle tradition here.  I mean, look at these things!  How can you not want one?  They look almost as good as they taste...  but the taste - it's heavenly.  Where else can you get 560 calories in a 5oz bundle of fatty love?

Snow conditions were actually impressive for NY/NJ - the least amount of ice patches I've seen in a while.  Can't wait for VT next week!  Looks like we're headed to Okemo Mountain.
 (Everything was covered in snow, so looked like Narnia)

So, after a nice day of snowboarding what does a hungry lil Korean girl want?  Ddukboki and Odeng, of course!  We were in a rush to get back to the city and return the car by the 9PM deadline (which, we sadly missed by 4 minutes, by the way), so we made a quick pitstop at Cap Udon in Palisades Park, NJ.  Maybe if I hadn't ordered a feast for 8 people instead of 4, we could've made it back in time... oh well.  Was totally my fault, but it was worth it!

Korean tidbit: "Cap" is meant to be a phonetic translation for "Kep," which in Korean means awesome, da bomb, numero uno, da bestest.  Cap Udon is a "boon shik jip," which pretty much means, casual cheap eats joint. 
Cap Udon
198 Broad Avenue
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 461-9977

Maindishes, Clockwise from Upper Left: Cheese Lamyun, Bibimbap, Omurice
Shared Dishes from Top to Bottom: YooBuChoBap, Ddukboki, Kimbap (tuna and mixed)

Then, as if this wasn't enough food, I couldn't suppress my craving for Odeng, so I had to order it...

But I'm so glad I did, because it was delicious and I was happy :)  Happy Snowboarding season, everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aruba Through Diana's Lens

T&N bought me the fantastic Diana for my birthday this year.  I finally got a 35mm converter and took it for spin in Aruba.  I definitely need more practice, but here are a few fun shots!

My Sweet Valentine!

Oh, what a week it's been!  Life always has a way of going from 0 to 100 in a blink of an eye...  But what's most important -- I don't care if what I say makes you barf -- is taking the time to appreciate the memorable events in between blinks ;)

This Valentine's Day was the sweestest I've ever had!  MrMC and MrN cooked us an Italian FEAST!  Everything from scratch!  Even the tomato sauce!  When the idea was suggested, I seriously thought we would be having curry for dinner - MrMC's House Special, which I have no qualms with because you know I love curry.  But lo and behold, an exceptionally delicious 6-course Italian family style dinner.  (I'm not exaggerating).  Complete with champagne, Godiva chocolate covered strawberries, and espressos.  My goodness - I was so impressed!  They were cooking with all sorts of fancy techniques that I must admit, I have never had the patience to even do myself!  They roasted peppers and PEELED THEM.  Umm, I buy them in jars.

They blanched grape tomatoes, peeled them, and MASHED THEM.  Umm, I buy them in cans. 

They were being so fancy that they totally put my kitchen skills to shame!  All their hard work and effort made me feel so cherished and loved :)  I would take a lovingly cooked meal over an expensive fancy dinner out, any day.  Hands down.  Love tastes a thousand times better than dollars!

Thanks for an oh-so-special & delicious Valentine's Day, MrMC & Mr&MrsN!  (Extra thanks for my yellow roses - my favvvv!)  You always know how to make me smile :)  Cheers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mandoo (Dumpling) Gook (Soup)

My family upholds our Korean tradition to make mandoo (dumplings) from scratch every New Years Day.  I can't share with you my family's mandoo recipe because I would have to kill you before my mom killed me, but I will share with you what you can do with the mandoo: make mandoo gook (soup)!  Even if you don't have a year's supply of delicious homemade dumplings in your freezer like I do, you can make this soup with any dumpling you buy from the freezer section of your nearby Korean super market.  Here's my slight spin on the traditional mandoo gook!

Cook-to-Eat-to-Be Happy Time: 20 min
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4


1. Soak dduk in cold water.
Note: How much dduk you put in your gook is your preference.  I like dumpling > dduk.  But remember that cooked dduk doesn't hold well, so only add how much you can eat.  You can always add more at a later time.

2. Add chicken broth to pot and bring to a rolling boil.  Rolling boil means it's not going crazy like a boiling culdron. 

3. Whisk eggs in small bowl and pour into chicken broth.  (If your broth is boiling like crazy, it won't be the end of the world but your egg is going to separate into tiny little pieces and make your broth murky).  (Save a little bit of your whisked egg for extra credit later - See step 7).

4. Add dumplings and cook over medium heat (~5 min) until the dumplings umm look like little brains.  I'm sorry, but that's the only way I can explain it.  They will float to the top and the dumpling skin will be tightly boiled to the filling... and it'll look like a little brain.  Haha.  MrMC doesn't like it when I compare food to not appetizing things, but well - I can't help it, that's what it looks like!

5. Are you ready for my little spin?  Korean people don't do this, but I like it :)  So, while dumplings boil into little brains, combine ground beef, soy sauce, and sugar in pan and cook.  Put aside to top dish later.

6. Drain dduk and add to pot along with almost all the scallions.  (Save some of the scallions for plating).  Cook max 2 minutes.
Note: Be careful not to overcook the dduk!  It will get mushy and not be yummy.

7. Extra credit: To make your mandoo gook prettier, fry and slice some of the beaten egg you saved, cut up some seaweed, and add to top of your bowl of mandoo gook along with the leftover scallions and marinaded beef.

8. Eat & Be Happy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eating Through Aruba

Sorry to disappoint, but I honestly didn't eat anything super interesting in Aruba.  But I did my best to log my gastro-journey across the small island of Aruba for you.

Our most delicious meal was the pork ribs and grilled chicken we ate at the flea market!

Our most creative meal was the triple decker ham & cheese sandwiches we made in the car using ingredients we bought from one of the countless Chinese-owned super markets we drove by. 
We scarfed the sandwiches down, so sorry no pictures.  But here's a picture of the view from the top of mountain peak where we ate them!

Our most memorable meal was our dinner at Marandi to celebrate MrMC's birthday!

We discovered that it was somewhat difficult to define Arubian cuisine.  We thought there would be more Caribbean or South/Central American influence, but we found that their menus (even in the local joints) were mostly burgers and sandwiches.

But regardless, we had a great time in beautiful Aruba - relaxing on the beaches, driving around the entire island, wading crystal waters, and photographing some incredible parts of the island! 

 Oh, Aruba.  I miss you already!

Happy Birthday, MrMC :)