Friday, February 27, 2015

Year of the Goat: Baked Chinese New Year Cake Recipe

Chinese New Year was last Thursday, and for the most part, I spent the day pretty celebration-free. I did some social media work for my internship, visited my school’s Startup Career Fair, and called each of my relatives in China. I didn’t do much, but I'm thankful for a time to reflect and appreciate family and friends among many other blessings of the previous (lunar) year.
Although I wasn’t able to celebrate on Thursday, I did celebrate with some friends on Saturday. As college students, I was surprised by all the incredible dishes that everyone bought! We had such incredible goodies as dumplings, steamed fish, eggplant, curry, and niangao (me!).
Anyways, enough with what I've been eating! I’m here to share my mom's baked niangao recipe, which I brought to the potluck! Earlier last year (and half a year late), I shared the more traditional steamed niangao recipe, but I think this recipe is also really delicious! 

The niangao recipe is obvious not the most healthy recipe, but seeing as to how it's the new year, I don't see why we shouldn't enjoy ourselves a bit! You know the 80/20 rule?
Baked Niangao Recipe

  • 1 bag of glutinous rice flour (16oz)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups of milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1 stick butter)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients and mix very thoroughly. If you have an electric mixer, blend on high for a couple minutes. If you're like me and don't have one, combine the dry and wet ingredients separately and then slowly add the wet to the dry mixing thoroughly in between.
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes until top is golden brown and center is cooked through.
This baked niangao is super delicious and has a mild sweetness to it. With the glutinous rice flour, it's also pretty filling! Try the recipe and let me know how it goes!

Hope you all have a great Year of the Goat!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 Things I've Been Loving

Hey guys! Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's day filled with chocolates and lots of love regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship!

My apartment-mate got chocolates for our whole apartment! Feeling so blessed :)

Anyhow, onto the 5 things I've been loving:

1. Overnight Chia Oatmeal 
I made a post on this a while ago, and it is simply delicious! Especially, since it's been so hot in LA recently, overnight oatmeal is a great choice! Super filling, full of fiber, and best of all, a refreshing start to the day~

2. Matcha Latte 
Especially since I've run out of instant coffee for my beaten coffee recipe (which in my opinion is just as good as the latte), I've been turning to this matcha latte recipe almost every morning! This latte is super delicious and great for a pre-workout energy boost!

3. Blogilates
Blogilates' videos are super challenging, but I've been really enjoying doing them recently. I'm exhausted afterwards, but I feel so strong too! What I like to do is choose a few of her challenge videos for each major muscle in the body and I'll work through them from legs to arms (biggest muscle to smallest). I learned in my weight training class at university that you should work the large muscles first and then the smaller muscles because the smaller muscles fatigue easier!

4. Grid Diary 
Grid Diary is an awesome diary/journaling app that I discovered a few months ago! Each day has a list of questions for you to answer such as "What am I grateful for?" "Did I exercise today?" "How can I make tomorrow better?" and so on. What's nice is that you can also edit, delete, and add your own questions. However, note the pro upgrade is $4.99, which is a little pricy for an app in my opinion.

Nevertheless, the Grid Diary has been super helpful for me to reflect on my day and remind me of all the things that I should be thankful for in my life!

Liar Game is a Japanese drama that I've obsessed over recently! It's about a really honest (and almost naive) girl named Kanzaki Nao who gets tricked into a game called the Liar Game (well duh :P). The secret organization behind this game forces participants to try to steal money from each other or risk being 100 million yen in debt! Since Kanzaki Nao is so honest, she gets the help of a mastermind swindler, Akiyama Shinichi, to help her in the game. And so goes their story!

I love love love Liar Game! Even though I'm typically not a big fan of Asian dramas, I just got totally stuck on this show. Furthermore, Matsuda Shota, the actor of Akiyama Shinichi is sooo cuute!  <3 Haha, this is definitely not the only reason I love Liar Game, although it is one factor :P
Look at his furrowed brows and intense but cool aura! Who can resist?!

Anyhow, even if you don't agree that Matsuda Shota is adorable... Liar Game is a super great psychological thriller that engages you and makes you reflect on the value of remaining truthful!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DELICIOUS. Alcove Café & Bakery Review

Hey guys! I know this was a long while ago, but on Martin Luther King day, a couple friends and I went to Alcove Café & Bakery for brunch. Before I say anything else, let me just get this out there: It. Is. Heavenly. 

Not only did I really enjoyed the food, I loved the location, the outdoor seating, the ambiance, all of the energy, and oh my gosh, this is the perfect place to spend a cool, sunny morning. Everyone was just talking and cheerful, the sun was out, and even though we were sitting outside, the way Alcove was decorated just gives this full-of-life vibe!

When I was at Alcove, I felt like I had no worries in the world.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures to show what Alcove looks like! Nevertheless, I found a few from Yelp so that you guys get a sense of what the environment was like. Of course, credits go to the people who took these pictures.
Although there was a lot of people, the wait passed by pretty quickly. The way it works is a cashier will take your order at the front entrance, and then they'll seat you while you wait for your food. Most of the seating is outside, except for a small bar that they have inside.
Of course, I don't mind all of the outdoor seating when the weather is beautiful--haha, praise God, Los Angeles has beautiful weather :)

As for what I ordered, I got the Blackened Salmon Sandwich, which was delicious! One note though, the sandwich typically comes with a sesame brioche bun. However, I asked to replace the bun with sour dough bread, which in my opinion was a great choice!
My friends ordered the Shrimp + Crab Omelette...
And the (Kinda) Classic Benedict....
I haven't tried either of these, but my friends loved it, and both dishes looked delicious!

Since President's Day weekend is coming up, do you guys have any scrumptious plans?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

InstaNatural Argan Oil Hair Mask Review

A quick disclaimer before I start. This is a sponsored post. BUT although I am sponsored by InstaNatural to write this post, I have tried some of their products before this one! Furthermore, these are my own personal and truthful opinions regarding their products. InstaNatural is not in any way requiring me to write a positive review!

The last few months, I've been getting into natural skincare products. I realized that a lot of our everyday daily products like cleansers, shampoos, and even nail polish have a lot of harmful chemicals that in the long run can be really harmful to my body. As I started doing more research on natural skincare products, I stumbled upon InstaNatural on Amazon.

For a newer and not as well known brand, InstaNatural has incredible reviews for all of their products! Thus, I decided to give them a try. The two that I've tried are their Vitamin C Serum and Advanced Action Retinol Moisturizer, both of which I have enjoyed immensely! I'll do a review on these products in another post.

Anyhow, I recently received a sample of InstaNatural's Argan Oil Hair Mask, and I was super excited because I had previous positive experiences with their other products.

The Review:

First Impression!
My first impression of the Argan Oil Hair Mask was IT SMELLS AMAZING and looks pretty delicious too haha.

Let's start with the cons...
In my humble opinion, the mask kind of let me down, granted that both times I've used it so far, I've left it on way longer than the suggested 10-15 minutes. I kept the mask on for almost three hours the first time and 30 minutes the second time--oops! In the end, my hair looked more like second day unwashed hair. Thus, I admit I still need to try the mask for the recommended time before I can form a really conclusive opinion on the product.

Now for the pros!
However, since these two uses, I do believe that my hair has become somewhat smoother and softer then I remembered it to be at the beginning of the school year. These changes are consistent even on days when I wash my hair and don't used the mask, which suggests that the mask may actually have the potential to treat dry, damaged hair! Yesss!!

The future...
Anyhow, I'll continue using this product at the moment because I've been complaining about my hair feeling dry for the longest time. (Blame my bitter sweet memories of soft, lush hair in middle school and high school. Arggg~).

I've read some reviews on Amazon where people have said they use it as a regular hair conditioner, so I'll give that a try as well!

You can find the Argan Oil Hair Mask product on Amazon for $17.95 at the moment: