Sunday, May 31, 2009

Red Bean Ice Cream

Red Bean Ice Cream3With my spanking new ice cream maker, Red Bean Ice Cream was first on my list. It was rather quick and easy to make ice cream with my ice cream maker! =) I made the red bean ice cream based on a vanilla ice cream ice cream recipe that came with the ice cream maker, reducing sugar, adding red bean paste and red bean chunks.

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I wasn’t very happy with the end result of my ice cream, although my guinea pigs (hubby, Seyda & Chris) thought it was pretty good. It started with the ready made red bean paste I used, which was the smooth kind with no red bean grains in it. I like to have bits of red bean in my ice cream, so I hastily boiled some red bean which took almost forever to cook. Once it had cooked, I strained it and chopped it up. Added the chopped red beans about the last 5 minutes of the churning process. Transferred the ice cream into containers and freeze them for a couple hours.Red Bean Ice Cream2I tried the ice cream and tasted more vanilla flavors (shouldn’t have added the vanilla extract) than red bean flavors. I thought the only time I tasted red beans, was when I bit into the crunchy frozen bits of chopped red beans which I did not quite fancy. I should have cooked the red beans more, and made sure they were more mushy before adding them to the ice cream! This definitely needs improvement. Anybody’s got an awesome red bean ice cream recipe to share????

Next up on my ice cream menu; Sorbet…. Mango perhaps…per the request of my usual suspects! =)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Wonderful Birthday

I was a happy happy birthday girl! I was giddy from all the love from family and friends on my birthday; receiving birthday calls, emails, wishes, cards and gifts!! **All Smiles** Thank you for all the wishes, the thoughtfulness and gifts…. You know who you are! For a moment, being 28 isn’t that bad after all!

Mom surprised me with a birthday call, a couple minutes after midnight. I was very touched with her effort to call me and wish me at that hour! =) Dad, brother, my in-laws also emailed/called the birthday girl!

Hubby surprised me (I love nice surprises!) early in the morning with stalks of beautiful red roses outside the bedroom, down the stairs leading towards the dining table where more surprise awaits me. More stalks of red roses await me along with a Birthday Mylar balloon awaits me, a box of yummilicious Godiva  chocolates, cards (one from hubby and one from Brady) and a Coach bag (which he got me last week and hid it all week long from me!) Hubby wanted to tie the balloon to Brady and sent him up to the room with it. Brady wasn’t too happy with a strange looking thing tied to the collar, so hubby took it off.BirthdayI was lead to believe that it was going to be a dinner date at my favorite restaurant with hubby that evening to celebrate my birthday. I was wrong and surprised! =). My close friends, Seyda, Rob and Chris with hubby’s help snuck into the house to surprise me with a beautiful birthday cake and gifts! Everything worked out perfectly and just fell into place. I was in the shower and was dressing up for the date when my friends all so happen arrived and got into the house without my knowledge.

I came down upon hubby’s persuasion having me see what Brady’s done (after hearing a sound in the kitchen) to see a beautiful lit birthday cake and presents! Yay!!My dear friends were hiding in the kitchen to surprise me.Birthday1My friends (who I nicknamed; the usual suspects) surely knows me well or maybe they are just trying to get me make more food for them when they gave me food related pressies! Cool ice cream bowls, ice cream recipe book, and a gift certificate to culinary class of my choice!!! =) I’m all hyped up about the delicious stuffs I could do with the gifts! My friends have also hinted that Sorbet would be a delicious summer treat for them! =). I would happily make it for them, no questions asked!

We then headed to my favorite seafood restaurant where hubby bought dinner; Naked Fish (reviews to come later) for some delicious seafood and Cuban cocktails! We got back to my place for some birthday cake for dessert!NakedFishTHANK YOU GUYS FOR EVERYTHING!

Friday, May 29, 2009



Family Vacation : Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

The best hotel throughout our whole trip was definitely Embassy Suites at Niagara Falls. It did cost us more than the other places we’ve stayed at… but the view of the Niagara Falls was worth every penny of it! Mom and Dad was definitely thrilled at the view from our hotel room. I was all smiles! Hehe! Pat on my back for making a reservation at this hotel. =)

The view of the falls from the top and from close up was simply magnificent. I will just keep this posting short ( less wordy), but loaded with pictures!

View from our hotel room @ Embassy Suites. Credits to my brother for taking these pictures with his dslr. Pictures on top, evening view. Bottom left; night view. Bottom right; @ sunrise.

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Walking closer to the falls. Top left; American Falls & Bridal Veil. Top right; Horseshoe Falls. Bottom; close up pictures of the Horseshoe Falls.

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And a little video of the Horseshoe Falls..

The following pictures are taken further away from the waterfalls. Left: Forgot what that was. Right: Flower Clock.

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We stayed a night @ Niagara Falls and did a scenic drive along the river to Niagara-On-The-Lake stopping by at a Winery for some Canadian Ice Wine before heading back to USA.

PS: We dined at what I thought was the most expensive Friday’s joint! Although prices were in Canadian Dollars (the exchange rate is not significant), everything on the menu was twice the price at the Friday’s I’ve been to in the US. I suspect they are banking in on the unsuspicious tourists like us. I had thought the price difference would not be that vast, boy was I wrong! 3 entrees, 2 drinks rang up at about CAD$95. The lousy waitress we had made the dining experience more painful.=PNiagara Falls-10

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raisin Cinnamon Bread Pudding

I had 2 loaves of Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread, thanks to the “Buy One, Get One Free” offer from the local grocer. The bread consumption was rather slow in the household, so I decided to make some bread pudding with some of the bread we have. =). Dessert is always welcome in this household. =)BreadPudding

I ate the dessert both warm about 10-15 minutes after baking, and found it alright. I tried it again when it’s completely cooled down. It tasted much better as the whole pudding has also set properly! The almond topping gave a nice crunch to the moist custardy bread pudding! =) … This recipe here is like a cheat, since my bread already has all the raisins and cinnamon in it ..=P




  • 11-12 Slices Raisin Cinnamon Bread ( I used Pepperidge Farm Swirl Bread)
  • 4 Extra Large Eggs ( or 5 Large Eggs)
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1/3 Cup + 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Slices (I love nuts….you could reduce this by half or omit this entirely)


Preheat oven @ 375F. Grease a 6 x 9 glass baking dish with butter. Cut bread slices into half, keeping crusts on. Arrange bread slices into glass pan so that it’s a compact. Fill gaps with pieces of bread if needed.

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Add eggs, heavy cream, milk, vanilla essence and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk all ingredients until well incorporated. Gradually pour custard mixture into the bread filled glass pan. Do it slowly, about 1/3 cup each time to allow bread to soak in the custard mixture. Gently push bread down with a spatula so that all bread is soaked with egg mixture. Top up remaining custard mixture to the rim of the pan. There might be some extra liquid.

Randomly dot the top of the bread with butter and sprinkle with almond slices. Place glass baking dish on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow) and bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour. Remove and let bread pudding cool and set before cutting into it! Bread pudding will puff up and almost double in size in the oven. It will then slowly “deflate” once you remove it from the oven.

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You can serve the bread pudding both warm and cold. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be delicious too! =)BreadPudding-6

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shanghai Nian Gao For Dinner…

It’s been gloomy all day today with occasional rain drops…… The best food remedy for such a cold, gloomy, icky day was definitely some HOT SOUPY STUFF!

For dinner, I made hubby and I a steamy bowl of Shanghai Nian Gao (Shanghai Rice Cakes) Soup each. Each bowl was generously topped with fish balls, fish cakes, Chinese Bok Choy, scrambled eggs and chopped cilantro for garnish. NianGao-1I bought frozen rice cake from the store which I then dump into my simmering broth for a couple minutes and added condiments to it. The end result, total yumminess and satisfaction ……. though the rice cake is slightly chewy. I still have about half a bag left which I could maybe use to do a stir-fry version later! =)NianGao-2

Korean Grill House @ Toronto, Canada

We stumbled upon Korean Grill House on our stroll down Yonge St in Downtown Toronto. Dad suggested that we try it out and I’m definitely game for some Korean BBQ meat! Mmm…..KoreanThe best part of this eating galore was that the grill dinner is CAD$12.95 per person for an EAT-ALL-YOU-CAN which all of us took. With that you get 10 different kind of meat (Pork, Beef, Salmon, Beef Ribs, Ox Tongue, Ox Liver, Chicken, White Fish Fillet, Squid). For CAD$3 more, you could get lamb and shrimp in addition to those 10 meat. The Eat-All-You-Can came with about 6 different kind of side dishes, soup (which we were given like 1/4 cup each) and rice. Fresh vegetables are however additional at $3 per vegetable/per person. If I’m not mistaken, when someone orders vegetables, everyone at the table would have to order it as well. That’s where they get you, I guess!

The side dishes were nothing to shout about. They were edible, but definitely not the best I’ve had. I’ve been to other (more Authentic, perhaps?) places where over 20 different kinds of to die for side dishes were brought out. The side dishes however were replenished quickly, upon order.Korean-1The meat arrived quickly in small dishes. There were so much meat that they soon look quite alike that nobody questioned what kind of meat that was and just started grilling and eating. The grill was set slightly lower than the table, which both had a pro and con. The pro part is that you get less oil splatter and probably don’t feel as much heat from the grill. The con was, it was hard to cook and watch the meat in the lowered grill; especially difficult if you’re short =P.


Meat was also replenished very quickly upon order. The wait staff were pretty efficient in topping up our drinks and constantly asking us if we want more of anything. They were pretty generous with the meat refills. Huge plus. I enjoyed chewing on pieces after pieces of beef ribs…..Mmmmm…..It would be heavenly if there were lettuce and bean sauce to wrap those grilled meat and gobble them down. My ice cold Heineken did however compliment my grilled dinner very well. =).

This place is perfect for meat lovers to fulfill their lust for loads of grilled meat. It’s seriously cheap eats (even if you ordered vegetable, or took the premium set) at CAD$12.95 per person for Eat-All-You-Can at a Korean Grill House, as ordering an entree at a similar joint will easily set you back $20.

Thumbs up for this place but don’t look forward to their side dishes!!! =) They do have other stuff on the menu other than the Eat-All-You-Can sets which we did not get a chance to try. I’m surely getting hungry just thinking about all the beef ribs I ate there…………………..

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant @ Toronto, Canada

It was Wan Qi’s suggestion the night before heading to Toronto that both families get some Dim Sum there. With no idea of which restaurants should we entrust our hungry tummy to, I turned to Google for help in finding a Dim Sum in Toronto Chinatown.

I found three options and decided to go with the first I found; Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant located on Spadina Avenue. It took me a while to locate this restaurant as I initially keyed in the wrong address into my faithful GPS. =P. And asking people in Chinatown; “Do you know where Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant is?” was not much help. It would have been helpful if I knew the Chinese name of the place (which I found out is “Fung Seng” in Cantonese) and no one knew I asked knew where Bright Pearl was and it was just about a block away!

We arrived at a bright yellow corner shop and took the stairs upstairs to the restaurant. We were greeted by the host and were seated immediately  (even though there were a few people waiting for tables) as they so happen to have big table ready. Yay! Location of our table was prime, near where the carts of fresh Dim Sum rolled out! Another Yay! Clean looking dining area was of typical Chinese dining banquet hall with gaudy out dated looking interior. =) I bet many Chinese weddings are held there though! Who cares as long as Dim Sum is YUMMY!!

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They had a good variety of the usual Dim Sum and other not so common ones. The push cart ladies and our waitress were quite nice and friendly. Thumbs up for that as I’ve encountered restaurant wait staff in Chinatowns that are rude and overly pushy while trying to convince you to pick Dim Sum off their carts. The food was overall yummy, although I did not really enjoy the egg tart as much. I find the crust having some weird (stale?) smell? My other comment was the “Char Leong” (Steamed Noodle with Fried Dough Filling, below)…..which was good except they serve it with a sweet sauce instead of the regular soy sauce like what I’m used to in the US. Toronto-12I do not know what the final damage came to as Wan Qi’s family picked up the billed.THANKS!!Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience and an awesome way to kick off Mother’s Day! I would certainly recommend this place. =)

Family Trip : Toronto, ON, Canada

It took me about 3 hours and $130 (multiple entries) to get my visa from the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. 8 years ago when I went into Canada the first time, we never needed the visa. A year after that (I think), the Canada changed their immigration law and required Malaysian passport holders to apply for a visa. The family (along with Wan Qi’s) crossed the US-Canadian border the day after graduation.

Being the designated driver and tour guide (and with the help of my brother’s navigation), I brought my family to Toronto for some sight seeing and food feasting. Toronto was SO MUCH FUN! I enjoyed the food there especially in Chinatown! There are so much yumminess in Toronto. I saw fresh exotic Asian fruits…..a rarity in US Chinatowns. Mangoesteen, Longkong, Dragon Fruit, among the few. Though some of those fruits are a lil on the pricey side,…it was ok to spend a little bit on them delicious fruits! =) Too bad, I can’t bring them over the border upon returning to the US. =(

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Upon reaching Toronto, Dim Sum was first on the itinerary. Two families celebrated Mother’s Day at Pearl Bright Seafood Restaurant. Review about this place will be on a separate post.

After some yummilicious Dim Sum, we stopped by Kensington Market which was just a few blocks up. I had envisioned an enclosed market with people elbow to elbow and street vendors pushing to sell their goods. This market (and looked like it had some residential homes in the area) was open air and more eclectic. There were hippy looking shops selling unique, rustic clothing …..Another parts of the market had fresh produce, cafe, tattoo parlor (i think)….etc.

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Next on the itinerary was Casa Loma; an European style castle nestled in Toronto, built in the early 1900. It was a work of art with the amount spent (at that time) to built this magnificent castle which was filled with elaborate carvings, filled with handsome furniture, incredible garden and more. Tour to this castle will set you back CAD$17 and in return you will get to walk to various part of this castle with the use of their audio guide. Parking at premises is at CAD$3 per hour up to CAD$9 max. 

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The rest of our Toronto trip was walking around downtown area for more FOOD. =). We stayed overnight at Courtyard Downtown Toronto (rooms are spacious and quite decent), which was quite a convenient location for food and shopping. It’s a 5-10 minutes walk to Eaton Center (bottom left) where more retail shopping are concentrated. I would probably not walk around the hotel later at night as some of the shops there looked a bit creepy to me. You never know what kind of people you would encounter late at night =P

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Before leaving Toronto for Niagara Falls, we drove by CN Tower for a quick photo opportunity. No one in the family had interest to pay over CAD$20 to ride the elevator up the CN Tower for a view of Toronto and vicinity…Hehe…


Monday, May 25, 2009

My New Kitchen Gadget!

Been eyeing an ice cream maker for the longest time…..and I finally bought it today! Yay! Presenting: my Cuisinart ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker! Ice Cream MakerWas contemplating to get the other model (ICE-30BC) which is slightly bigger and has a stainless steel casing to match my kitchen appliances (and cost about $30 more too). After some thoughts and inputs from hubby, Seyda and Robert…I got the none matching white 1.5 quart ice cream maker instead. No difference white or silver, since I won’t be displaying this on my kitchen counter everyday! =)

Can’t wait to try out new ice cream recipes this summer……Yay!! Am so excited!!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Family Trip : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY

The whole family did some touristy thing before the graduation weekend…. We toured Buffalo and visited some local attractions. Among them were the Buffalo Botanical Garden (left), Buffalo Naval Park/Musuem & Our Lady Of Victory Basillica (right; spectacular architecture, unfortunately closed).


My green thumb parents were thrilled with the visit to the indoor Botanical Garden featuring various plants and flowers. I did not inherit the green thumb trait from my parents as I manage to kill the only bamboo plant in my house =P. I found the garden all right, the building is really pretty from the outside. Entrance fee is $6 and you get discounts for being a senior or student! =)

The Naval Park was not too bad either and entrance fee was $9 per person. You get to walk thru retired war ships and submarines, absorbing pieces of history. Warning: The ships tend to get a little musky, and after walking in and around the ships…we were all a little nauseous! Buffalo-19The following day (after picking up the hubby from the airport); we drove to Niagara Falls National Park (NY). We were blessed with wonderful weather that Friday. The Niagara Falls were picturesque. It was simply breathtaking to see the mother nature’s wonders! I’ll just share a couple pictures to take your breath away, as it did mine!


It has been my mom’s longest dream to visit the Niagara Falls, and we’re all happy that she was able to fulfill this dream of hers. All of us were in awe with the falls. Even though everyone except my mom has been to the Falls at least once, we’re still amazed with the scenery and the rapidness of the water!

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Besides walking by the falls and soaking in the awesomeness of the scenery, we did 2 paid touristy thingy. Both activities gained 2 thumbs (and 2 toes) up from everyone in the family! Hubby and I especially enjoyed the Cave Of The Winds walk. For $11 per person, this is so worth every penny of it! Ponchos and waterproof sandals were provided (and yours to keep). You will take an elevator 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge and from there you’ll be walking on decks near the base of the water falls and experiencing storm like weather conditions with water gushing (at certain areas) at you! This great adventure is definitely not for someone who’s fear of waterfalls or is aqua phobic! =P

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Maid Of The Mist is a must ride when you’re in the Niagara Falls area. This was our first time on the boat, and my dad’s second time. Coincidentally, it was about 25 years ago when he first visited the falls and sat on the Maid Of The Mist! Boat ride costs $13.50 and each person is given a poncho. The 30 minute boat brings you quite close to the base of the Niagara Horseshoe Falls where you’ll be able to “soak” in the powerful rushing waters of the falls. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience! Boats leave both from the US and Canadian side.

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If you plan to do both activities, may I suggest that you do Cave Of The Winds first and keep your waterproof sandals!! Wear the sandal aboard the Maid Of The Mist when you’re doing that tour! You’re bound to get wet and your shoes soaked on the boat! We were lucky as I planned for the family to do the Cave Of The Winds first as my logic was to let lunch settle before we do the boat ride, in case the ride was bumpy. Now, we don’t want lunch in the river…do we?! =P

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