Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break II!! San Antonio and Castroville!

Hello everyone!

In order to celebrate our Spring Break II,
actually called Spring Recess,
(because Rice is awesome like that and gave us Thursday and Friday off for Easter)
we took a road trip to San Antonio and Castroville!

Before we left, I was uber ambitious, and made some Kimbap for the road;
Mommy used to make these (but the real version) for us all the time,
so I thought I would give it a try.
This isn't the real Kimbap though,
it just had rice and some roasted kale inside it instead of the whole... shebang...
We actually finished the whole thing on the trip out,
so we didn't have any for the way back,,,
well, now we know to make more for our next trip  ;) 

We began the trip by visiting Castroville Regional Park, 
which is less than half an hour away from San Antonio,
and enjoyed a little hike.

It was really gorgeous.
Who would've thought that Texas could be this beautiful?
I mean, when I think Texas I think deserts and barren lands,
but this little stream we found was really green and quite beautiful.

Then, we also found a little playground at the park,
so of course we had to frolic a little  ;)

On our way back, we spotted this,,, tree decoration (?)
can someone explain this to me...?
I'm just a bit confused...

Cora's 471 Grill.
apparently it has the best nachos in Texas.
So obviously had to go there, right?
I mean, it's the best in Texas.  
That's a pretty big claim, eh?

And the verdict?
It was pretty darn great.
but super heavy.
A layer of chips, beans, cheese, meat, tomatoes, and some jalapenos. 
My mouth loved it, but my tummy not so much...

Before we left Castroville for San Antonio,
we stopped by the Haby's Bakery.
because everyone told us that we had to visit this place.
 we got cream cheese and strawberries filled doughnut and this pineapple filled pastry,
and the cream cheese/strawberries doughnut pictured above was pretty darn tasty!
the pineapple one is waiting in my fridge right now, waiting to be tested tonight after dinner  =)

Then, we hit the line of 5 San Antonio Missions.
We were originally going to hit all of them,
but,,,  after two, we called it quits, 
partly due to my stomach having problems with the uber rich food...
My diet is usually pretty light and mostly vegetarian, so it was a bit shocked I think  haha

The ones we visited were awesome though!
I had never seen anything like that before, so it was all fascinating,
and the weather was absolutely perfect for leisurely strolling,
and it was with my man. so I mean, ya, it was pretty great  ;)

The next stop was the River Walk!
I mean, it's one of the things you have to do in San Antonio, right?
It was such a relaxing stroll,
and we walked into a little Italian shop with this charming old Italian man who kept talking to us in Italian.
It was really quite charming  ;)
A trip is not complete without ice cream of some sort afterall,
so we got some raspberry/grapefruit gelato and a cannoli.
my first cannoli!  and it was so good--he assured us that it would be good since it was his mother's recipe  ;)
see?  I told you he was charming.

We wrapped up our break by watching Croods
--highly recommended for some good old pg-rated laughs and warm/fuzzy feeling in your heart--
and it was the perfect break we needed from all the hustle and stress of grad life.

Now we're back, and it's time to get our butts in gear for the last month of school!
 I can't believe Rice ends so early in the year! 
but this last month is going to be...  awesome...  yeah!  haha

I hope you are all enjoying this Easter weekend!
Happy Easter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

kkakdugi (깍두기)

Hello everyone!

One of the first things that come to mind when you hear Korean food,
is probably Kimchi.
Oh, we love our Kimchi.
There are probably 100 different kinds of Kimchi,
and so far we've just been buying them at H Mart whenever we wanted to eat them.
But when the 'whenever we wanted to eat them' became almost every day,
we decided to try our hand at making it ourselves!

We picked the simplest of the Kimchi (I think),
which is Kkakdugi (깍두기).
It's Kimchi made of Korean radish.
We've made it twice now, and we absolutely love it!
and I think it tastes much better than the store-bought kind  ;)  haha

So here is the smaller recipe (because there are only two of us eating)
adapted from this recipe.

What you need
2 pounds of Korean radish (different from Daikon radish)
1 Tbs salt
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup red pepper flakes
1/8 cup fish sauce
2 stalks of green onions
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 ts minced ginger

Now if you are wondering what on earth is fish sauce and which one should you get,
(because I sure did)
Mommy says that the 3 Crabs brand tastes the best.
I was worried that it would be really difficult to spot,
but honestly, it wasn't.  
It literally has 3 green crabs on the bottle and looks like this.

Now to make Kkakdugi!

1. Peal and wash your radish, then chop it into bite sized cubes.
We really like our food to be bite sized, so ours was pretty small 1/2 inch cubes?  
but it can be bigger, depending on your preference.

2. put the chopped radish into a big bowl, add 1Tbs of salt and 1/2 Tbs of sugar and mix well.
Let it sit for 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes, drain your radish (there should be a lot of water) 
but make sure to leave some of the radish water remaining in the bowl--about 1/4 cup.

4.  Add rest of the ingredients into the bowl.

5. and MIX!!!

David got the mixing duty  haha  =p

And then voila!
we put them into glass jars
--I think they were spaghetti sauce and peanut butter jars,, yay for recycling!  ;)--
and it made the perfect amount for the two of us to enjoy for the next couple of weeks!
Oh, and even my roomy Amulet, who is usually so wary of my 'mystery Asian foods', liked it  haha

Let the jars sit outside on the counter for a day before putting them in the fridge.
Mommy says that this helps them taste better...
I guess it probably has something to do with the fermentation process...?
haha  either way, it tastes great afterwards, so I'll stick to letting them sit outside for a day  ;)

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013


Hello everyone!

We had been talking about going to the zoo for ages and ages,
but somehow we never seemed to be able to find the time to do so.
We really have no excuse,,,
I mean, we live literally a block away from the zoo, and it's free for Rice students!

But yesterday, thanks to my Bach seminar being cancelled,
we finally went to the zoo!
Actually, we should probably thank David's big brother for the outing,,,
have you noticed that when someone is visiting,
that always provides the extra push necessary in order for you to actually go do stuff?
so yay for family visits!  =D

It was such a gorgeous day for a stroll,
and we got to ooh and aah at plenty of fascinating animals.
I was mostly interested in the big cats, 
but unfortunately they were not very cooperative with my picture taking...
but I did get many other animals to cooperate with my clicker happy fingers  =)

I was especially surprised by how cute the meerkats are!  quite attentive as well!

I have to say though, my favorite animal from yesterday was the giraffe.
All because we got to feed him   haha

It was such a pleasant morning/afternoon,
and it was really fun to finally meet and hang out with David's big brother a little bit  =)

 resemblance?  yes?  no?  haha
gotta love the sibling chemistry  ;)

Thanks for the wonderful stroll Houston Zoo,
we shall be back soon.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

some lark love

Google chatted with these folks tonight.
Some Meadowlark lovin.
Love them so much.

Can't wait to be with them this summer!

Mozart and Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Hello everyone,

It's only Wednesday, but it's been quite a rough beginning of the week for me...  eek...
By last night I was physically and mentally exhausted, 
and was dealing with a headache and an upset stomach,
--I never get headaches so I'm not the best at dealing with these..--
so today I decided to give myself the day off.

On the agenda for the day?
Mozart and Cupcakes.

I'm in the process of deciding which Mozart violin concerto I want to learn,
so I've been listening to 1 and 2 non stop this morning.
I love them both, but I think I'm leaning more towards the 2nd one...?

As much as I love the Bach Chaconne,
I need something to balance it out...

And while listening, I thought I would try my hand at making some cupcakes.
In our 'Experimental Kitchen', we've succeeded in creating many things,
but cupcakes have never made the list of successes as of yet.

And since I had a lot of essential oils leftover from my laundry detergent project,
I thought I'd use some of that in the cupcakes!
--Make sure that your peppermint essential oil is food grade!  I used the DoTerra brand--

so here's the Mint Chocolate Cupcake that made an appearance at our apartment today!

and here's the recipe, modified from this one
What you need:

for the cupcakes
 8 Tbs (1 stick) of salted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 ounces of bittersweet dark chocolate, cut into chunks
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
5 drops of peppermint essential oil (food grade)

for frosting
4 oz cream cheese
3 Tbs butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 drops of peppermint essential oil (food grade)

chocolate chips, mint leaves, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, 
or more cocoa powder for garnish if you feel fancy like that  ;)

Let's bake!
1.  Use a double boiler, or add an inch or two of water to a saucepan and place a glass or a metal bowl over the saucepan to create your own double boiler. (what I did)
Bring the water to a simmer, and into this bowl sitting on top,
 add the butter chunks, chocolate chunks, and the cocoa powder.
let the butter and chocolate melt, and whisk until ingredients become creamy.
Remove from heat and let cool.

2.  While the chocolate is cooling, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  
Then add the sugar and the peppermint essential oil and beat them some more.

4.  Mix in the chocolate mixture (make sure this is cool enough so it doesn't cook the eggs!)

5.  Add half of the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder) to the wet ingredients and mix.
Mix in the Greek yogurt, and then pour and mix the rest of the dry ingredients.

6.  Fill the lined muffin cups about 2/3 way full (mine filled 12 muffin tins)
and bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

7.  While your cupcakes are baking, make your frosting by beating the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and the peppermint essential oils together.

8.  Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin after 5-10 minutes,

9. let the cupcakes cool completely,
and frost away!
oh, and add garnish if you feel extra artsy today  ;)

10.  Enjoy one or two (or three) with your roomy.

cupcake cheers!

there's just no question about it;
your week is just so much better with some chocolate lovin.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

What a Guy!

Hello everyone,

So you know that my guy is a bit of a scientist,
--hence the running commentary on all things sciencey during our runs--
and it was an uber exciting week last week for two reasons:

For one, his paper was published in PNAS!
if you don't know what PNAS is, 
-I definitely didn't- 
it is Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
what an intimidating name... 
but anyway, it's quite the prestigious journal, so I was very excited for him.  =)

Then!!  His paper got picked up by Ars Technica the same week!
You can go have a read here.
I thought it was funny that the blog said that both authors were professors at Rice.
It looks like David just skipped his last couple of years of Doctorate and Post-Doc 
and went straight to professorship! =p

Anyway, he is such a hard worker,
--he frequently stays to work in his lab until the wee hours of the morning,, all by his lonesome!--
 and I'm so happy that his work is getting recognized.
What a guy, eh?
I'm pretty proud of him  ;)

To celebrate, we had a night of cupcakes and How I Met Your Mother  =)

he was horrified that he ate the heart decoration  haha  i love how his expression kinda matches the dinosaur's  lol
haha such a goof.  =)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 15, 2013

We baked a pie, and ate it too

Happy belated Pi day everyone!

To celebrate, we baked a pie yesterday
--pecan pie, because that's Amulet's favorite--
and had it as dessert after dinner.
(I had it as lunch today as well  haha)

We were going to make it,
but our courage failed us...  and we just bought the frozen kind.
At least we used the oven, so we sort of feel like we made it...?   haha
It was quite yummy, though a bit too sweet for my taste.
But we enjoyed it with an episode of How I Met Your Mother.
so. good.

An engineer friend was over for dinner as well,
and him and David enjoyed a nerd moment together about how they can't wait until it's 2015.
because it'll be 3/14/15.
we'll have to make sure we celebrate it at 9:26 AM on that day,
and we can be extra nerdy  ;)

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pretty darn healthy pancakes!

Hello everyone,

I am not a big breakfast eater,
and I think brunch is far superior to breakfast in every way,
if only for the fact that brunch does not require you to get up at the crack of dawn...
I would choose sleep over food any day. for sure.

But thanks to Pinterest (and health blogs),
I have found that I don't mind eating breakfast after all,
especially if it's in the form of these pancakes!

I have combined a couple of different recipes,
and came up with my own, so here it is!

Pretty Darn Healthy Pancakes
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 Tbs Chia seeds
2 Tbs ground flax seeds
(coffee bean grinder if you have whole flax seeds)
topping of your choice
oil for cooking--I used coconut oil

note: there is a bag of oats in this photo, but it is not actually needed for the recipe

For toppings, I chose blueberries, chocolate chips, and strawberries.

now onto make these lovely pancakes.
First, mash up your bananas really well, then add eggs.
Then you add your chia seeds and ground up flax seeds, and you're all done!
I know, so simple.  and that's the reason why I love this recipe so much!
less cooking time = more sleep time.

In terms of actually cooking them,
I imagine it's like making any other pancakes,
but I don't know because I've never made 'normal' pancakes before   haha

For these, I just heated the frying pan on medium low,
poured the batter onto the greased pan
added the toppings,
and waited until the edges began to bubble and come up a little.
I always feel like this part takes forever, but I suppose patience is a virtue...?

And then, check to make sure the bottoms are golden brown, 
and flip them over!

I just flip them over normally, all careful like,
but if you're fancy like David, 
you can try his method as well
flying pancakes! haha

we ended up just sprinkling the strawberries around the pancakes 
instead of making strawberry pancakes,
(we already had blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes after all)
and then we used some agave for syrup!

So good!  =D

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Monday, March 11, 2013

O My Gogi Fries -- 'Jamulet' Version.

Hello everyone,

There is this food truck in Houston, O My Gogi, that has the best fries ever.
Amulet and I crave these like nobody's business.
--and I'm craving them right now because it's almost midnight,
and I have midnight munchies like no other!
I would go to bed, but I'm supposed to be sitting here writing a paper.  after I blog...  haha--

Anyway, the food truck is only near rice from 9pm -2 am or something most nights,
and sometimes it's not there, etc etc,
so basically, it's not there when we crave these fries the most.
So one day, we decided to recreate this at our apartment!

The process was actually pretty simple.

What you need:
Your favorite brand of frozen fries
Your favorite queso
2 or 3 chicken thighs (we used the frozen kind)
Olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
half of an onion, cut into smallish squares (i'm sure there's a cooking term for this)
lemon pepper spice
Italian seasoning
1 green onion chopped (for topping)
and most importantly, some Sriracha.

First, start by preheating your oven, and bake your fries by following directions on your frozen fries package.

And while that is happening, warm up your skillet, and add some olive oil and garlic.
Once the garlic is golden brown, add your chicken, and generously sprinkle in the lemon pepper and italian seasoning.
Once the chicken looks about done, cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces,
(we love bite-sized everything at our apartment!  everything is better in small portions!  haha)
and add your onions!
Once your chicken is cooked and your onions are beginning to have the clear-esq look to them,
add some Sriracha (depending on how spicy you want it) and mix mix mix!

This is what ours looked like in the end  =)

By this point, your fries are probably done, so take them out, and arrange them on a plate like so.

On top of the fries, sprinkle (generously) your prepared chicken concoction,
some queso,
(but not too much,, we did too much here)
drizzle some Sriracha,
and top it with the chopped green onions!
and tada~~ 

best comfort food ever?

and here's the O My Gogi version, and the 'Jamulet' version  haha 
Not too shabby, eh?  =p

We noticed afterwards that they also had some cilantro, so you could add that as well,
but the Janny part of the 'Jamulet' is not a big cilantro fan, 
so we'll be keeping our version cilantro free  ;)


Saturday, March 9, 2013

I really tried to like escargot...

Hello everyone,

I was supposed to be at the rodeo right now,
but I got sick last night  =/
so no rodeo for me today...

so sad,,, I was really looking forward to it too! 
but hopefully I'll still get a chance to catch it sometime before it's over.

At least last night was great!

The Houston Symphony took over our school for their annual ball,
-and we, the students, couldn't be seen-
so we decided to go on a date instead of working our Friday night away.

This is how our school was transformed for the ball!
vodka bars, valet parking, ice sculptures, live music--though we have this all the time  haha

Bistro des Amis is a little restaurant on a corner of the Rice Village,
and we always walk by it, but had never actually eaten there.
We were planning on going there for our last date,
but then found out they were closed on Sundays -silly restaurant-
so this time, David called ahead and made a reservation, and etc etc 
to make sure that we would be able to eat there. finally.  haha

And they have this outdoor patio sitting area with these giant fire pillars to keep everyone warm,
and of course, I have always commented on it every time we walked by there  haha
'do you think people's hair will catch on fire if they sit next to it for long enough?'
etc etc.

so naturally,
we sat next to one for the dinner.
and I'm happy to report that my hair did not catch on fire  =p

we started our meal with some escargot because,
well, I had never had it before, 
-David had tried it once, but a very long time ago, so he couldn't remember much-
and I have always been fascinated by it.
So many movie scenes with these little snail things and the foreign contraption that is used to eat them!
--Pretty woman, Princess diaries, etc etc--
I was hoping I would get to experience the foreign contraption used to eat the meal,
but unfortunately (or fortunately?) for us, they were already shelled,
and came out in a bowl with a puff pastry lid.

so I tried one by itself,,
I really wanted to like them, but couldn't.

so I tried another one, with the puff pastry this time,
still couldn't quite get myself to like them.

and then finally tried it with a piece of bread,
and really really tried hard to like it.
but ultimately,

now I know.
I don't like escargot.
what a shame!
I thought I would like them, I really did.

Have you tried escargot?  did you like them?

maybe I would have liked it better if I could have used the escargot contraption thing.
Maybe I'll try them again, a little later when my taste buds have forgotten how they taste a little bit.
I'll just have to make sure they are not pre-shelled next time   haha

For the main meal, we had beef bourguignon, and wow...
these were so good!
so. good.

I do not have the vocabulary of a food critic,
and I'm also not all that critical of food,
--I'll eat just about anything!--
but I do know that these were incredibly delicious!
the meat was incredibly tender, 
but I think my favorite part was actually the sauce.  yuuummm
I guess they boil the meat in red wine for hours and hours?

Maybe we'll try to make it at home   ;)

Well, I hope all of you are staying healthy this weekend!