Northeastern Chinese Food and Asian Grocery Shopping

Hello everyone! Yesterday I had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall that specializes in Northeastern Chinese food, followed by grocery shopping at a couple different Asian supermarkets. Sometimes, errand days are more tiring than work-out days…

Check out these juicy, steamed pork dumplings! That crust though. I’m not sure why they present it like this, but one of the girls said it’s cornstarch. It looks like my eggs when I cook them without cooking spray…

These fried leek dumplings are soul satisfying. They’re pretty filling but aΒ  bit oily.

Chicken with mushrooms and vegetables. This dish was OK, nothing too memorable about it. The chicken pieces were cooked well and abundant. Served with a cup of steam white rice, this makes for great leftovers the next day.

House special noodles. I loved tender beef pieces in this dish. I am pro-noodle anything – as a kid, I would get a take-out box filled with plain lo mein and had a feast. I think there was one lone shrimp in this entire dish though.

This was the perfect fuel for an afternoon of grocery shopping. We checked out a Korean supermarket and noticed this was in their fountain. Anyone have a clue why they were doing this?

Our bounty of yum.

Beef kim bap, you are MINE. I’m obsessed with this stuff. I think I like it more than sushi. I read that in Korea, kim bap is the perfect picnic food. I bought two extra containers and found a recipe on how to rehydrate the stale rice. I’m excited to share it!

My mom likes snacks and bought these rice cake things. We were trying to decide between two different brands. The Korean store clerk said the other brand was quite sweet (can you believe it – 24g of sugar a serving!) so these were our winners.

Asian grocery stores tend to mark down their produce. We got almost 2 lb of plums for 75 cents. Just be careful to really inspect the fruits and vegetables – I’ve bought some before and the side against Styrofoam packaging would be mushy. Luckily, these were good.


My mom’s “healthy towel.” It’s basically a really painful loofah without the poof.

So excited for these sweet potatoes! I stock up at the Asian markets because it’s only 59 cents/lb.

My family’s go-to bulgolgi sauce. Did you know that pears is one of the essences of this?

We didn’t buy these but how cute! Frozen red bean buns that are supposed to look like cute piggies.

I LOVE kabocha, AKA japanese pumpkin squash. You can get them at Sprouts but they’re usually cheaper at Asian markets. These are easier to cut when you use a cleaver and mallet. I love to eat them roasted and then dip them with runny eggs with avocado on the side. It was one of my staple meals in college.

See that stick of red and yellow squares? Those are eggroll wrappers. My mom’s about to go on her lumpia (Filipino eggroll)-rolling marathon today. She makes a HUGE batch and then freezes them. It’s one of her most-loved dish.


Have you ever visited an Asian market? Find anything interesting? As a kid, I loved watching the live fish and getting Yan-Yans (biscuit sticks with frosting).

Cheers! Nicole


Cheering Up a Hospitalized Patient

Hello everyone! This quick little post shows some thoughtful gifts for giving to a hospitalized patient. I work at a hospital and realize that the little touches really do make a hospital experience a wee bit more pleasant. 

🌺 Hand written note: Although I love receiving fun cards, I personally prefer to write a handwritten note on a piece of cardstock. I got this pack of 50 notes from TJ max for a few dollars – very versatile and can be used for birthdays, thank yous, etc.

🌺 Cozy socks: The hospital usually provides no-skid socks but they’re a little rough and scratchy. I recommend some cozy socks to wear in bed, but maybe switch over to the non-skid socks (or maybe some shoes) if your patient is walking around.

🌺 Lotion: The hospital also has little lotions but they have that standard unscented smell. The patient that I’m gathering these goodies for likes Japanese cherry blossoms. I thought some scented lotion would be a nice fresh change. 

🌺 Comfy robe: This is what I’m most excited to share! Patient gowns are pretty much one-size-fits-all and they tend to show  bum. Also, warm blankets are highly appreciated. A cozy, warm robe will help make the whole experience more comfortable. 

Other gift ideas include home cooked meals (we’re thinking wonton noodle soup), some fresh flowers (check hospital policy – cancer patients tend to have lower immune systems and aren’t allowed to have fresh fruits and flowers), and maybe an iPad to play with… if you happen to have any spares laying around. πŸ™‚

If you were a hospitalized patient, what would you like to have to make your experience more pleasant?

Cheers! Nicole 

Thankful #8

Today I am thankful for the practice of yoga. I started doing yoga during college via YouTube videos back when Hilaria Baldwin posted her videos for free. I didn’t practice consistently but I did enjoy the post-yoga stretch feeling. I am by no means an expert… no fancy inversions here! 

I love how yoga forces me to take deep breaths and control my breathing. I only like the videos that tell you when to inhale and exhale… otherwise, I forget to breathe 😝 Yoga also lengthens my muscles and feels like an active (and free!) form of massage. Back when I did heavier weightlifting, I always looked forward to my yoga stretch days. 

I rarely do yoga nowadays but am hoping to practice more consistently. One of my barriers has been time. 60 minute sessions are nice, but even a 15 minute session yields some benefits. Today I did an hour of it and it feels great!

Do you like doing yoga? Do you practice at home with YouTube or at an actual studio?

Cheers! Nicole

Wedding Planning – Step 1, done!

Hello everyone! Last night, my fiancΓ© K and I had a Pei Wei dinner date (apparently one day late for national Chinese take out day <11/6>) before heading over to the Church and meeting with the marriage coordinator. 

Apparently they offer “small” bowls of a pad Thai. It’s not on the menu, but it might be worth asking about if you aren’t able to take home your leftovers but still want to eat the tangy goodness of fusion pad Thai. πŸ™‚  I love eating the peanut saucy chicken chunks and thick slices of tofu. Yum!

Fortunately, the Church still has our date available. The date was important because it was chosen by the Taoist temple in the Philippines based on our birthdays etc. My family is heavily into cultural traditions and this was very important to them. January 2019, here we gooo!

There’s quite a bit of prep work associated with marriage planning with the Church. We need to take a pre-marriage inventory test to assess our compatibility, attend a retreat or two, classes, etc. If anything, this experience will only make us stronger. 

And lucky for us, the Church will still be decorated for the Christmas season so we don’t have to worry about buying flowers for the ceremony! The colors of the Christmas decor are gold, white, and red (poinsettias). Any suggestions on a wedding color? We were thinking plum or a darker blue-green. 

Anybody have sweet memories from their wedding day? Any advice to share? We are all ears.πŸ‘‚πŸ» πŸ‘‚πŸ» 

Cheers! Nicole

Thankful #3-7: Playing Catch Up

Oops, so much for consistently posting my days of thanks… 😁

3. The ability to travel, both physically and financially. I love going to the airport and people watching – everyone’s excited because they’re about to depart for a new experience or to see a loved one. Same thing goes for tourist spots. Travel refreshes the soul!

4. An easy recovery after gallbladder surgery. No complications, just a little bruising. Thank heavens!

5. Not having to rely on public transportation. I’m blessed to have a car, to have family members with their own cars, to have friends with their own cars… I’ve used public transportation in the past, and to be honest I feel guarded and a little on edge while using it. It’s stressful making sure you’re at the right spot at the right time and to make sure you’re safe. The only groceries you can buy is whatever you can carry. 

6. These fresh summer rolls my mom makes. SO GOOD. One of my favorite things to eat. It’s filled with scrambled egg, green beans, crunchy carrots, cabbage, sweet potato, savory pork, crushed peanuts sprinkled with sugar, crisp lettuce, etc. Pretty labor intensive but so so good. 

7. Variety of teas and gum available. Operation “don’t binge/snack” has been a go! I eat when I’m stressed or bored. Brewing tea followed by chewing gum helps satisfy this oral fixation (and hopefully helps me shed some lbs). Before, I think the amount of snackage I ate was equivalent to the amount in my meals. This will be so good for my long term health and self esteem.

What are you thankful for today?

Cheers! Nicole

Bruno Mars concert!!

​​​This weekend was amazing. We were lucky enough to attend a Bruno Mars concert that K bought tickets to last November. But to start off…

On Saturday evening, we had a few guests over and they gifted us a house plant.

His name is Crouton. We aren’t exactly gardeners, so hopefully Crouton will live a while. I guess this is a step-up — plants first, then pets, then kids right?

It was a lovely night of nice company and delicious food. I didn’t take pictures, but our eats included lots of fresh crisp vegetables, Korean chicken stew, and grilled Korean-marinated beef and pork. Followed by a slideshow of pictures from fiance’s family’s recent Japan/Korea trip. Mmmm!

Since we were both wide awake at 4:30AM on Sunday AM, we decided to catch the sunrise at a local park. The weather is finally getting better!! The park has a ton of rabbits, birds, fish, and ducks so it felt like a little zoo.

The mango flavor is delicious. Like a fizzy/tangy mango nectar juice.

We had lunch a local Poke place. A great variety of fresh, crisp ingredients. The watermelon radish was an aesthetically-pleasing touch of color. I had some ahi tuna and salmon poke buried somewhere there. The different textures and tastes really meshed well.

For Sunday dinner, we went to a local Asian supermarket that houses plenty of restaurants and food court stations. I had tried quang nam noodles at a different Vietnamese place before and LOVE the dish. However, this version was too lemony with tiny pieces of bony/fatty beef. The quail eggs were creamy and the noodles were cooked well, though.

K had an eel sous vide bowl with a little beef rice ball. Sous vide is a fancy French style of cooking that involves water, controlled heat, and time. It makes the protein very tender and flavorful. 

Then we took public transportation to the Bruno Mars concert!!

It was the best concert I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen Journey with Steve Miller Band, and U2 in the past). The opening act was a lovely singer named Jorja Smith. She has a deep, soulful voice with a London accent. My favorite song was “On My Mind.”

The special effects of the main show were amazing. Bruno really delivers – he’s goofy and energetic, dancing around everywhere and engaging with the crowd. The event was well-organized and the music wasn’t deafening (huge plus!). The energy of the crowd was amazing. In a couple sections away, a lady was really rallying up the crowd and kept twerking. Security came by but the crowd kept chanting “let her stay, let her stay!” Hilarious watching other people watching the little side show.

I tried posting a video but my phone kept fizzing up… so here’s a consolidation picture. πŸ™‚


Great weekend with even better company! What was the highlight of your weekend? Favorite concert you’ve attended?

Cheers! Nicole

First Watch VIP Event

I was lucky enough to RSVP to an e-mail invitation for dinner at First Watch before the seats were all taken. This complimentary meal was served by the friendliest waitress. In return for the dinner, First Watch was collecting donations for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It’s a win-win-win all around!

They started us out with a delicious-smelling drink.

Chilled Pear Cider – Red Anjou pear, Fuji apple, organic ginger, lemon and cinnamon

They served two platters of each of the three dishes to be shared among the four of us. My family really enjoyed the chocolate chip pancakes and cinnamon roll waffles.


Β· Cinnamon Roll Waffle – a light and airy Belgian waffle topped with cinnamon syrup, cream cheese frosting, toasted pecans and cinnamon powdered sugar. Served with a side of warm cinnamon syrup.

Β· Cinnamon Chip Pancake Breakfast – Two scrambled eggs with a cinnamon chip pancake and bacon.

Β· Pork Belly Bacon & Grits – Bob’s Red Mill Cheddar Parmesan cheese grits topped with thick-cut braised pork belly bacon, two poached cage-free eggs, picked peppers and fresh herbs. Served with lemon dressed organic mixed greens and artisan ciabatta toast.

My favorite thing was the cheesy grits. On one of our Pork Belly Bacon Grits plates, there was a piece of menu tucked under the bowl. We thought it was unusual since there wasn’t anything special written on it and the second plate didn’t have it.

My family said the pancakes and waffles were quite sweet (I avoid gluten so I didn’t taste). We were able to bring home the leftovers to enjoy the next morning.

A lovely breakfast-for-dinner evening. Thank you, First Watch!

Cheers! Nicole

Note: This meal was complimentary and a donation to Phoenix Children’s Hospital was provided. All opinions are my own.