My Girl

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)
The kids are finally home on Christmas vacation and all are also finally well from the terrible wrath of cold and cough that the whole family endured for over 2 weeks. Glad to finally kick sickness' booty off this household!

So yesterday was truly the first day I was able to take my little girl out all to myself. The boys were busy playing with their friends so off I went to swoop my little miss to our Girls Day. It won't be long now before she find girlfriends to hang out with and so I'm enjoying every single second of this. One day I'd like to go on a mini-vacation with her. Maybe when she becomes a teenager. Sigh.

A photo posted by MJ Tam (@mjtam) on

It's been 20 years but we're just beginning!

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)
I dreamed of this exact same scenario when we first got married in 1994: to make our own family tradition and we did just that. This is our 2nd decennial family celebration and the whole thing went without a hitch. Well, ok - except with the constant arguing with the kids that I never imagined. But all in all...it was mission accomplished!

We decided that every 10 years on our anniversary year that we would take the exact same trip visiting same spots from our honeymoon with our growing family and we recently came back from our 20th anniversary trip. We started in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and then San Francisco before we head back home to Chicago for an almost month-long trip. We were exhausted but content. This trip is even much more meaningful because the kids are in on making sure we hit certain marks. And you know, we're really just beginning because 2024, 2034, 2044 are still coming adding on grandkids in those future pictures, too. I'm giggling as I think of it all.


My #DTour of a Lifetime to Asia!

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)

Disclosure: I am one of the official #DTourist assigned to scour the continent of Asia to inspire travel there. Each of us is assigned a continent. To read more about #DTOUR with DoubleTree by Hilton

In Wanzhou, China - climbed up and down a beautiful mountain!
A couple months has passed since I got back from Asia from my whirlwind #DTour trip but not a day has gone by without me thinking and referencing back to what I've learned and absorbed from my trip. If someone had told me that I will be seeing 7 countries, over 15 cities, 14 flights, and over 28,000 miles (that's like 73 time of flights from NY to LA) within 31 nights in Asia. 31 nights! - I would probably think that it's not possible to do. But I did! That's truly insane. That's not even counting the many hours spent traveling on land and on foot! There were times when I had about 3-4 hours ride to my next destination and oh, how can I forget? There were countless hours spent walking and climbing mountains!

Summer Perfect Spiced Rum Sangria - EASY & FAST

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)

It's finally starting to warm up a bit here in Chicago and so I thought I'd whip out one of my favorite summer perfect drink - Spiced Rum Sangria.

Spiced Rum Sangria Recipe
Makes 6 servings
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (750 ml) dry red wine
  • 1.5 cup Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
Dice the apple and slice the lemon, lime, and orange into thin rounds. Place in a large pitcher and pour rum and sugar. Stir and chill for about 2 hours. This will help develop the delicious flavor. When ready to serve, crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir in the wine and orange juice. Then serve it on the rocks!

Sometimes I add maraschino cherries and carbonated water for an extra splash. I suggest you try this too. Either way, they are both delicious and easy to make.

Enjoy!

Asia or Bust! #DTour Asia here I come!

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)
 OMG, it's really here. Someone pinch me! I am heading to a tour of a lifetime as one of the official #DTourist for DoubleTree by Hilton traveling the continent of Asia!

I just literally finished packing and I just remembered that I never got to share this on my personal blog. I will be hitting several countries starting with China and will be sharing lots of pictures and videos via Chicagonista.com and my social networks:

Twitter: Twitter.com/mjtam 
Facebook: Facebook.com/mjtam
Make sure you follow the hashtag #DTour 

You can read more about what exactly I'm doing in Asia here: http://chicagonista.com/category/dtour/ and check out my video below to show you all the other places I am hitting.

Cooped-Up & Souped-Up

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)

Today's weather news is more of a nuisance. Yes, yes - another snow storm will be hitting us again. Like always, temperatures are going to drop to extreme negatives after a few days of non-stop snow and we're back at it all over again. And like many Chicagoans, I'm SO done! At this point, more snow will not make things any harder than it already is. Roads are iced up and the snow that has been dropping since the start of this year has nowhere to go but look unsightly black on street banks.


There's a sunny side to this winter though. No, really - there is! I'm talking more about my disposition and not so much the warmth of the sun that we are badly needing. I'm thinking positive here because another subzero temp day is almost our normal here in Alaska. I mean...Chicago. Sigh. So while we're all cooped-up inside, we've also souped-up!

Ever since I've signed on to be a Campbell's Wisest Kid Ambassador I've found so many different ways in making some quick warm meals just like my favorite Campbell's®  Tomato Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.


Photo from the CampbellsKitchen.com
I've also tried a couple of recipes found in the CampbellsKitchen.com and a new recipe that I found recently is our new family favorite called Shortcut Alfredo Lasagna made with a Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup. The recipe is easy, fast, and delicious!

Photo from the CampbellsKitchen.com

Another new family favorite is the Creamy Risotto-Style Chicken and Rice. This one is made with a can of
Campbell's® Healthy Request® Condensed Healthy Request® Cream of Chicken Soup. This recipe is also American Heart Association Certified. (Hey, it has rice! Said by my happy Asian family)

I have a feeling that we will not see the end of this Polar Vortex for quite some time so I will probably try a couple more of these recipes.

Wait, I know some of my friends reading this are laughing. Me, cooking more? This is normally a rare occurrence in my home and THAT my friend is what being cooped-up is like for me. So being souped-up is really the sunny side of winter that I've been talking about!

For the next few weeks my husband will be taking over the home. I am off to travel for 31 Night in Asia and so I will be leaving him with Campbell's Wisest Kid in the Whole World to help him along in planning the meals. Good luck husband, you're in good hands!

Disclosure: I’m a paid ambassador compensated by the Campbell Soup Company -The Wisest Kid in the Whole World. My opinions are completely based on my own experience.

Shaking Up Breakfast

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)
It's been a couple of weeks now that I've been truly vigilant in getting the proper breakfast to start my day. While it is still quite a struggle most mornings, I have seen the difference in how I feel when getting my proper breakfast. I used to run out of the house without any breakfast and by 10 or 11am at work, I'm usually starving in the worst way. I easily lose focus and patience very easily. I'm quick to make rash decisions and in need of nourishment. So now I make the extra effort in making my breakfast that keeps me satisfied all the way to lunch time. Thanks to my Registered Dietitian partner +Victoria Shanta Retelny , I've learned to shake up my breakfast! Something different! For me, anyway. In fact, I'm finding that my kids enjoy doing this as much that they make an effort to get dressed and ready to make their own shake before heading to school. Heck, if I knew that this was the magic I needed in the morning to get things going - I would've done it a long time ago! One example Victoria shared was the:

One cup milk + frozen cherries + handful semi-sweet chocolate chips + a mint leaf

Sounds delicious, right? For more shake recipes - check out Victoria's blog here: http://victoriashantaretelny.com/blog/shake-up-your-breakfast/


Photo Credit: http://Instagram.com/vsrnutrition
Now if you knew that you can be more focused at work (or school) by maintaining in eating a proper breakfast with the protein that your body needs, would you make the changes too?

According to What America (Tw)eats, there are more than 1.6 million number of tweets on skipping breakfast. Just imagine 1.6 million grumpy office workers everywhere! This could mean budget miscalculations, poor judgement calls, etc. So, let's change the culture together and get your protein in the morning!

Free Milk Every Minute The Got Milk Got Protein campaign is also helping Americans win their own free gallon of milk every day. The promotion – at GotMilkGotProtein.com – is designed to encourage Americans to get into a healthy routine by starting each morning with milk’s high-quality protein. To instantly see if you’ve won a buy one get one free milk coupon go to GotMilkGotProtein.com.

Disclosure: I’m a paid spokesperson compensated by The National Milk Mustache "got milk?"Campaign. My opinions are completely based on my own experience.

Polar Vortex Yummy: Crunchy French Toast

1 spoonful of sugar (comments)
One thing I realized is that I don't do well just hibernating (#Chibernating for Chicagoans) when Chicago shuts down for what we have learned here in Chicago as Polar Vortex dubbed as #Chiberia on Twitter. We all know that Chicago is not a stranger to extreme cold but this is something new. Crazy snow and winds brought in as low as -45F windchill! In fact, just in January alone, the city and schools closed down TWICE! Unbelievable.

So what do I do instead of taking advantage of the time off with the kids? Well - cook, of course! If you know me at all, you are probably laughing at this. Me? Cook? Well, well, well....look at my creation below.

Introducing my Crunchy French Toast! (and yes, that's my own picture)

I first had it at a local hotel restaurant for breakfast and I knew I had to get the kids get there to try it. Polar Vortex part deux came along and so I gave in and made it myself. No, for real! Check out the the recipe below to warm your tummy!


Crunchy French Toast
Ingredients:
  • 2 or 3 slices of bread, cut into quarters
  • 1 large cornflake cereal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 drops of vanilla
  • Butter and pancake syrup
To follow the step by step instructions here's where I found that recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/crunchy_french_toast/

Oh, and here's my other Polar Vortex Chocolate Goodness - a microwave lava cake recipe

Let's Talk Soup!

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)

January is a National Soup Month, so let's talk soup!

I don't know about you but the thought of soup warms me up especially with the kind of winter we're experiencing here in Chicago. But truly in this household, winter or not - my kids are soup monsters! Yea, just like me.

Chinese HotPot
My kind of girlfriend outings lately are done over hotpot. There's nothing like sitting and gabbing with a group of my girlfriends over steaming Chinese hotpot that keeps our conversation going on for hours. HOURS!

Filipino Sinigang
When my kids visit my parents (gramps), they request that he makes Sinigang. A tamarind flavored soup that my kids love and enjoy.

Chinese Hot & Sour Soup
And my husband also always make Chinese tofu or winter melon soups for us.

All of which are quite an undertaking just to prep and make a pot of these soups. But cooking is simply not my cup of tea...or my BOWL of sugar. (Going with my blog name here). So when it's left to me to keep my family all souped up, I turn to their next favorite thing in the world. Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup! And did you know that Campbell's Condensed Chicken Soup turns 80?! Yes! Here's a quick fascinating fact that I learned about the Chicken Noodle Soup.
"Introduced in 1934, it was originally called "Chicken with Noodles" and enjoyed only moderate success. Later that same year, an innocent misstatement on a popular radio program caused sales to sky-rocket. One of the famous on-air personalities misread his copy and accidentally called the product "Chicken Noodle" soup. Suddenly, Campbell started receiving large orders for their "new" product. The soup was formally renamed "Chicken Noodle" after the erroneous turn of phrase caused high demand for the soup."
Happy Birthday! 


 Disclosure: I’m a paid ambassador compensated by the Campbell Soup Company -The Wisest Kid in the Whole World. My opinions are completely based on my own experience.

I Got Milk and a Game Plan!

0 spoonful of sugar (comments)
My Registered Dietitian +Victoria Shanta Retelny partner for the Milk Mustache campaign said,"Cut Back NOT Cut Out".

I was really happy to hear her say that because it meant that I don't have to go cold turkey on certain foods I enjoy. We were talking about my rice obsession and carving out some of the carbs (sugar) to get me back into feeling/getting healthy. I was on my own completely substituting Quinoa with my rice and although I'm not hating it, I certainly miss it. Now I'm glad to hear that I don't have to give up rice fully. I told Victoria that I just really want to feel comfortable wearing my clothes without having to wear a scarf or another layer to hide the mommy muffins and all that. I think some of you may know what I'm talking about here.

Watching my daily caloric intakes and making sure I'm meeting my protein needs was important and high on our game plan. She calculated with my weight (not gonna tell) and semi-active lifestyle that I should take in about 1200 calories with 60-65g of protein intake that on a daily basis.

Even better, she drew out a game plan I can easily get onboard with.

  • BREAKFAST 6am (My Power Hour) 300 cal ( a glass milk about 86 calories on lowfat milk & 8 grams of protein, a banana, 100 cal, a hard boiled egg, 78 calories)
  • SNACK 9:30 - 10am 150 cals
  • LUNCH (by 1pm the latest) -  400- 500 cals
  • SNACK - 150 cals. (apples, oranges, grapes, veggies)
  • DINNER - 400-500 cals.
  • SNACK - 150 cals.
I really love the guideline she's given me and her @vsrnutrition Instagram shows many recipes and healthy tips in how I can keep score and live healthier! Below is a warm Brussels Sprouts salad and is just one of her many recipes on there.
Instagram by @vsrnutrition 

"Brussels sprout lovers unite! I am enjoying shaved Brussels sprouts in salads lately - they are popping up everywhere on restaurant menus, too. This one is a warm salad with a tbsp of olive oil, a diced shallot, a clove of minced garlic, a cup of shaved Brussels sprouts, 3 halved cherry tomatoes and 1/2 cup of black beans tossed in a skillet over medium heat. Cover to steam sprouts for 5 - 10 mins. Serve alone or wrap it "

Disclosure: I’m a paid spokesperson compensated by The National Milk Mustache "got milk?"Campaign. My opinions are completely based on my own experience.