Winter is officially here, and that means that it’s officially soup season. Yeaaa!!!!😉 I love that soups are so easy to make, require very few ingredients and also last for a long time in the fridge or freezer. I always crave hearty soups during the winter months, and I often do a soup fast to lose weight or to at least eat less high calorie foods during the holidays. I will share a few of my classic soup recipes that will warm your soul, starting with my thick, mild chili.
1 Can of Red Kidney Beans
1 Can of Pinto Beans
1/2 Chopped Onion/Green Pepper
1 Can of Tomato sauce (plain)
1 lb. Of Ground Beef/Turkey Meat
1 pack of Mild Chili Powder
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
Cook the chopped onions and bell peppers first in olive oil on med heat. Add beef/turkey to the pan. Add spices and chili powder to taste. Add the drained beans and 1/2 cup of water to the meat. Cook for about 30 minutes on med heat. Add the tomato sauce and more chili powder/spices as needed. Cook for another 30 minutes on med heat. Add water as needed. Continue to cook on low heat until the beans are soft and the sauce is very thick and rich. Enjoy!!!!😉
You can also use dry Red Beans and Pinto Beans for this recipe. Simply soak the beans overnight and then cook them for an hour with water and Tomato Sauce for an hour before adding the cooked meat and spices. Cook for another hour on med/low heat after adding the cooked meat and spices.
I have a new favorite mountain, and his name is Achasan. A friend recommended that I check out this beauty, and I’m so glad that I did last weekend. The scenery was gorgeous, starting with a beautiful temple at the bottom and ending with stunning city views at the top.
Since the mountain is only about 285 meters high, the hike to the top doesn’t take long. There is an easy to climb mixture of stairs, flat rocks and soft dirt on the way up. The large flat rocks and stones reminded me of the surface of Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. I absolutely loved the terrain.
I imagine that this mountain would be too icy and much more difficult and dangerous to climb in the Winter. Thankfully, it’s still Fall here, and it’s the perfect time of year to hike. However, I would not recommend hiking this mountain during the icy winter months without spikes on your shoes.
Achasan is located near Konkuk University, about 40 minutes from Gangnam in Seoul. The next time you want to do an easy two hour hike (one hour up and one hour down), you should go to Achasan. Huge Bonus: There are outdoor phone charging stations on the top of the mountain!!! Crazy right??😉 You can relax on one of the many benches at the top while your phone charges before you go back down.😉
To get there: Take the purple line (Line 5) to Achasan Station. Exit at #2. Walk straight from Exit #2 and take the first right up an alley towards the mountain. Walk straight for about 1 mile, until you reach the temple at the foot of the mountain.
Posted in ADVENTURE, FITNESS, Helpful Info, KOREA, KOREAN FACTS, Mountain Climbing, QUICK ESCAPES, SEOUL, Uncategorized | Tags: achasan,, easy hikes, fall hikes, group hikes, group hikes in seoul, hiking in korea, hiking in seoul,, hiking,, meetup, Mountain Climbing, mountain hiking, mountains,, seoul hikes,, sunday hikes, winter hikes
I completed a 25 day eat clean challenge in September, and while doing so, I created a tasty new vegetarian meal from just a few simple ingredients. I love chick peas so much and decided to mix them with green squash, spinach and curry. The end result was spectacular, and here is the recipe.
– 1 cup of cut green squash
– 1 cup of canned chick peas (drained and washed)
– 1 cup of fresh spinach
– olive oil
Lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil. Heat the pan with medium heat. Add cut green squash first. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add small amounts of water when necessary to steam the squash. Add light seasoning to taste. Add drained and washed chick peas and fresh spinach. Reduce heat if necessary. Cook for another 10 minutes. Continue to stir and add more seasoning/curry to taste. Add water if necessary to keep the veggies moist. That’s it!!! Double the recipe for 4 servings. Enjoy hot or cold.😉😉
One of my favorite meals to cook is my Honey Glazed Salmon with fresh veggies. I have been cooking this dish for years, and it comes out perfectly every single time. To make this easy and healthy meal, just follow the steps below.
– Fresh Salmon Fillets (2-4)
– Garlic/Salt/Pepper (mixed seasoning)
– Curry Powder
– Honey (1 tablespoon per fish)
– Olive Oil (1/4 cup)
Coat a frying pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat — then add your salmon fillets (skin side down — if applicable). Sprinkle a small amount of salt/pepper/garlic/curry on top. Let the salmon cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Flip Salmon over and remove bottom layer of skin (if applicable). Season the other side very lightly with the same seasonings. Let the Salmon cook for another five minutes. Flip the Salmon over and add honey on top. For well-done Salmon, cook for another 5 – 10 minutes on each side. For medium cooked salmon, cook for just a few more minutes until the salmon is cooked all the way through. For juicy Salmon — add a cover to your pan. For crispy salmon — do not add a cover. You can use this same recipe for oven baked Honey Salmon. Heat in the oven for 20-30 minutes on 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover with foil for juicy Salmon — leave uncovered for crispy salmon. Different cuts of salmon will require different cooking times. Watch the fillets carefully as you cook them. Thicker fillets will require a longer cooking time. Serve with fresh cooked veggies!!! Enjoy!!!😉😉
Happy Fall!!😉 The holidays are quickly approaching, and I normally cook even more than usual during this time of year. People who know me well, know that I love cooking for others. One of my favorite holiday dishes to prepare for a group of people is my homemade Broccoli/Rice and Cheese casserole. I have been making this dish for years, and I have perfected the recipe. This southern classic is perfect for potlucks and other gatherings. Follow the easy steps below to create your own casserole that will be sure to satisfy your friends and family members this year and for years to come. Happy Holidays!!!😉😉
(For a 30 x 23 x 5 cm or 9x12x2 inch deep baking pan/dish)
– 4 Broccoli crowns
– 2 cans of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
– 3 containers (300 grams each) or 4 cups of cooked rice (3 bags of instant rice)
– Garlic salt
– Salt/Pepper/Mixed Seasonings
– 8 oz block of shredded Colby Jack cheese (1 bag)
– 4 oz block of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (1 bag)
– 5 slices of cheddar cheese
– 2 large tablespoons of butter
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 chopped onion/garlic/celery (optional)
Cook broccoli crowns first in a large frying pan or wok on med/high heat with a bit of olive oil. Cut off/Cook the broccoli tops and discard the stems. Add chopped onion/garlic/celery stick (optional). Heat the broccoli and veggies with butter, 1/3 cup of water and light seasonings. Stir for about 10-15 minutes until broccoli and veggies are steamed and fully cooked.
Heat the cans of Cream of mushroom soup in a separate large pan or sauce pot on medium heat. Add a bit of water — 1/2 cup of water and the 5 cheese slices. Cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce is heated and the cheese has melted.
Combine the cooked rice and melted cheese sauce in the large pan with the broccoli. Mix all of the ingredients together and salt/season to taste. Add half of your shredded cheese to the final mixture and stir.
Add the final mixture to your baking pan and press down firmly. Spread an even layer of the remaining cheddar/colby cheese on top of your casserole mixture. Add basil sprinkles to the top layer of cheese. Bake in the oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20 minutes. For firm casserole, bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
For a well-done top layer of cheese, bake for at least 30 minutes. You can also add cooked pieces of chicken breast to the mixture if you would like to include meat. Double the recipe for larger pans. Enjoy!!!!😉😉
We had a four day holiday weekend for Chuseok in South Korea this year, so I decided to take a quick trip over to Tokyo. I have visited the beach in Osaka before, so this was my second time traveling to Japan. However, this was my first time staying in the city.
I must say that I was very shocked at the calm and quiet energy in Tokyo. Like Seoul, Tokyo is a very busy city with millions of people. However, the noise level was extremely low. I didn’t hear any honking horns, there were no loud voices and there was no screaming or boisterous laughter. I didn’t see any running, pushing, bumping or scurrying. I saw lots of people, shoes, legs and feet moving. But — I heard — no noise. This was a very weird, surreal and twilight zone type of experience coming from the constant hustle and bustle and circus type atmosphere of Seoul.
While walking around and using public transportation in Tokyo, I heard soothing nature noises like running water and pleasant bird chirps coming from public speakers. I think the Japanese government has made a conscious effort to keep the people in a very sedated and hypnotized state. Very different from the loud Kpop and rap songs blaring from the public speakers in Seoul.
The people in Tokyo also spoke in very quiet voices. I could hear them speaking, however, the tone was very low and polite. I have never heard the words “Thank you” used so much in my entire life. Most of the people said “Thank you” numerous times — even when it was unnecessary.
There were signs everywhere in Tokyo, which served as reminders on how to act and behave. I was surprised to see signs instructing people to hold on to handrails, arrows telling people which way to walk and posters that read “Do Not Rush”. This created a very different atmosphere compared to that of Seoul, which is more of a daily chaotic rat race where people compete and fight for space and resources. In contrast, everything seemed strangely organized and orderly in Tokyo.
I was debating on whether or not to experience a capsule hotel for my first Tokyo visit, but I decided against it. Instead, I booked a really nice and cozy place in Asakusa, which was a perfect choice. I stayed at the Hotel Hokke Club Asakusa, and I was completely satisfied with everything there. Nice staff — nice room — great breakfast buffet — and awesome wifi.😉
I booked my trip using Expedia. The hotel and flight cost was $725, and my total budget for this trip was $1,200.00 for three days. Tokyo is much more expensive than Boracay and Thailand, so I was prepared to spend a little more than usual per day.
The public transportation costs are very high in Japan (with a starting fee of $6.00 per taxi ride), so much of my money went towards getting around the city. The subways and buses are less expensive, so I spent most of my time using the subway. I went to three major areas: Shinjuku, Shibuya and Asakusa. My hotel in Asakusa was an hour away from the airport and the other two areas were even further out.
Although there are tons of things to do in Tokyo, I was a bit limited with my time. I was able to enjoy some beautiful city views from the Tokyo Tower, a daytime street festival in Shibuya, and a night tour of Shinjuku. During my night tour, I was able to see night views of the city from the Tokyo Metropolitan government bldg (for free), and I also enjoyed dinner at an authentic Japanese style BBQ place. The night ended with some fun and memorable pictures taken in a super cool photo booth, which edits your captures to the max within minutes!!! Lol.😉
If I had more time, I would have definitely gone inside the famous Robot restaurant in Shinjuku, visited a hot springs place, and gone to the Tokyo SkyTree Tower.
I also didn’t eat much of the food in Tokyo. I did have some fabulous Japanese curry, delicious grilled meat and veggies, and I had some famous homemade ice cream sandwiches. However, I didn’t have a chance to try Japanese noodles or sushi. I actually don’t like sushi, so the Japanese curry was enough for me.
On the positive side, the rumors about the city being spotless are all true. Most of the subway stations seemed to glisten and shine as if they had just been buffed and polished. The subway system was also very easy to figure out and navigate, which was a major plus. On the negative side, free wifi is very hard to come by, which was very annoying. I had the most stable wifi connection in my hotel room, but not so much outside in the city. Bathrooms were also very hard to locate. Therefore, my two biggest complaints about Tokyo would be the limited access to free wifi and the lack of public bathrooms.
Overall, I had a great trip. I would love to go back and do more of the things that I didn’t have time to do this time around. I think five full days in Tokyo would have been better for me. I’m glad that I finally got a chance to see the big city for myself, and it was nice to compare and contrast everything in Tokyo with my experiences in Seoul. If you have a chance, I would encourage you to visit Tokyo for your next week-long vacation. There is so much to do and see there. Happy Travels!!!😉 Check out more photos on my Instagram account: @KoreanKream
Cool Tours through Trip Advisor >>>> http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g298184-Activities-Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html
Top 10 things to do in Tokyo:
Every year — after completing my teaching contract in South Korea — I reward myself with a one week vacation to the place of my choice.
I went to Jeju, South Korea after my first teaching contract in September 2010. The following year, I traveled to Osaka, Japan. In 2012, I enjoyed a week long yoga retreat in Belize. I visited Thailand twice in 2013. This year, to celebrate my fourth year in South Korea, I decided to go to Boracay, in the Philippines.
I read about Boracay and saw pictures of the beautiful island during my first year of teaching in Korea. I have had plans to take a trip there since then. Many of my students and friends have also raved about the pristine beaches there, and Boracay has been named for having some of the best beaches in the world.
I had never heard about Boracay while living in the states. However, I continued to hear about this tiny mystical place while living in Korea.
I booked my trip through Expedia and paid $800 for my flight and hotel. My total budget was $1,500. I flew into Manila, took another plane to the Caticlan airport, and then took a motorcycle taxi to get on a boat to reach my hotel. My hotel was very close to the port, which made it easy to travel to and from the airport. (There are two airports in the Philippines close to Boracay Island — Caticlan and Kalibo. Caticlan is one hour closer to Boracay Island.) Please note: the trip to and from Boracay Island can be very time-consuming, cumbersome and tiring. Make sure you busy yourself with something to read/write or do during your journey to pass the time and to remain patient. The airports are not as efficient as in other countries, and you may have to wait for long periods of time at the airport in long immigration/check-in lines and for transferring flights/shuttles.
When I arrived in Boracay, I overpaid a guy to help me with my luggage. He charged me 800 pesos, when I should have only paid 300 pesos for the entire trip. However — since he carried my bag the whole way and took me directly to my hotel, I really didn’t mind. I did, however, skip the extra payment on my way back to the airport, since I had become familiar with the area at that point.
My hotel was very nice, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet staff and the size of my room. All of the staff members were very welcoming and friendly. The hotel was not luxurious, but it was a perfect, quiet retreat for one week. I decided to stay far away from White Beach, because I wanted to have a very peaceful and relaxing vacation away from the party areas. I figured that I could go to Station 1, 2 and 3 when I was in the mood to be there. If you want to stay in a more secluded place in Boracay, check out the Feliness Resort. However, if you want to be close to the action, you should book a hotel on the “White Beach” strip.
I spent my first night ordering room service and getting an in-room massage. After traveling all day, I wanted to eat, relax and go to sleep early. I got a full body massage for 1,000 pesos (700 + 300 tip — $20.00) and cooled down with my first of many mango shakes.
I woke up refreshed and well-rested the next day and hit the beach early. Getting to the White beach area was not difficult at all. However, it took about 20 minutes in a motorcycle taxi because of the road traffic and flooding. Many of the drivers tried to offer me a “private ride”, but I refused to pay 100 pesos when I could share a ride for just 20 pesos.
Transportation tip: Share a motorcycle taxi at all times to save money. I don’t think there is a bus system in Boracay. I rode the “tuk tuks” every day, and simply told the driver where I was going. Some drivers will refuse to pick you up, depending on their route. Just wait for another driver to come along. All of the drivers and locals speak English, which makes it very easy to get around the island. You can also rent your own motorcycle if you prefer.
White Beach was just as beautiful as I imagined. I read some reviews online which said the sand had lost its pure white color due to tourism, but I was still blown away by the cleanliness. There are three stations in Boracay. Station one is the most crowded, station two is less crowded, and station three is not very crowded at all. The stations are simply tourist areas that are about a mile long and you can walk from one station to the next if you prefer walking over taking a motorcycle “tuk tuk”. While on the beach, you can enjoy a range of water activities, including Kite surfing, which is very popular in Boracay.
Beach Tip: There will be TONS of people trying to sell you stuff. They are trying to make money. Buy something if you are interested and simply say “no thank you” if you are not interested. There are also TONS of tours available. Make sure you compare prices and ask others what they paid for their tour. No need for you to overpay for your tour. For example, one guy tried to sell me a private sailboat tour for 1,500 pesos (around $25.00). However, I already knew that the cost was 800 pesos (around $17.00). I told him that I would pay 800 pesos and he quickly agreed. Had I not known the typical price, I would have overpaid.
While in Boracay, I paid for a few private tours:
— On my second day, I went on a snorkeling tour for 2,000 pesos (about $40).
— On my third day, I went on a beach hopping tour for 2,000 pesos (about $40).
— On my fourth day, I did a Crystal Boat tour for 500 pesos (about $10).
— On my fifth day, I just enjoyed the beaches.
— On my sixth day, I had my favorite tour, which was on a private sailboat for 800 pesos (about $17).
— On my last day, I spent all day at the beach.
I only spent just a little over $100 for all of my tours.
Some other tours include scuba diving and helmet diving. However, I would highly recommend that you be extremely careful if you choose to go helmet diving. According to a guy that I spoke to during my visit, a tourist DIED while helmet diving. I would strongly advise that you carefully consider which activities would be best for you while traveling. There are many fun activities in Boracay, however, you should always make safety your top priority.
There are also caves and other nearby islands to visit. I’ve heard that Palawan and Bohol are both very beautiful and secluded islands close to Boracay. If you have time, and you are interested in venturing out, I think you should consider a trip to another island.
Five days in Boracay is really plenty of time to enjoy everything there. Make sure you visit the “DMall” area while you are in Boracay for shopping, delicious restaurants, pharmacies, massage places and a huge grocery store. It’s a good idea to stock your hotel fridge water and drinks, because you will need constant hydration during your stay.
I went to Boracay in August, which is the rainy season. Although it rained for the first four days (off and on), I enjoyed perfect weather and complete sunshine during the last three days. September may be a better month to visit. For those living in South Korea, Boracay would be a great place to visit during the Chuseok holiday.
Please be aware and keep in mind that Boracay is still a developing country. The beaches are phenomenal and the people are amazing. However, there may be some things that may seem a bit inconvenient for travelers. One of the best comments I read on an Expedia review was to bring/buy my own toilet paper. There was not an abundance of towels or toilet paper at my hotel, so I was glad that I brought these items with me. I bought more toilet paper from the store after noticing that this item was not automatically stocked in my room. I didn’t want to keep bothering the staff for rolls of toilet paper, so I just bought my own for a couple dollars at the DMall grocery store. I also bought soap, shampoo and drinks for my room. Keep in mind that every hotel may be different. Some hotels only offer fans (instead of AC units), and other hotels may have issues with having a constant flow of hot water. I think you should be very careful when booking your hotel, and read all the details/reviews before making a reservation. For a more luxurious stay in Boracay, consider booking a hotel like the Shangri-La. >>>>>> http://www.shangri-la.com/boracay/boracayresort/
Some visitors may also be annoyed by the many locals who are trying to sell their items to tourists. To that I say, if you want to avoid panhandlers, then perhaps Boracay is not the place for you. I spoke with many of the workers in Boracay who all confirmed that most people make about 300 pesos per day, which is about $7.00 per day. Not per hour — but — PER DAY. Therefore, most of the people who live there are simply trying to make money to survive (just like you —– when you go to work and hustle).
The two best beaches were White Beach and Yapak (Puka Shell) Beach. I actually preferred White Beach the most, because I really prefer white, silky sand over sand with shells. Bulabog Beach was more for water activities, and the other beaches I visited were too small and insignificant to really enjoy or mention.
Food Tips: For breakfast or brunch, I would highly recommend that you try the Sunny Side Café on White Beach. I enjoyed the Red Velvet Pancakes there. For lunch and dinner, I would highly recommend going to the “DMall” Shopping area. I had some great Indian Food, Pizza and Mexican food there. I didn’t have any bad eating experiences while in Boracay. I would say that you should just check the menus and pick a place that looks good to you. The only local dish I tried was the Adobo Chicken, which was a wonderful stewed chicken dish served with rice.
Overall, Boracay was a wonderful experience for me. I would def go back there for another visit. Don’t miss the beautiful sunsets, the affordable seafood buffets, the fresh mango shakes and the massages on the beach if you decide to go!!!!😉😉😉😉
Check out more photos on Instagram at: @KoreanKream
The best meat I’ve ever had in my life was from an open grill steak restaurant in Isla Mujeres, which is a lovely small island off the coast of Mexico. I was very young when I had these tender cutlets, however, I will never forget the phenomenal taste and texture of these perfectly marinated grilled steak pieces.
Ever since that magical moment, I have compared all of my beef to the Isla Mujeres standard. No other meat has ever come close in comparison. Since living in South Korea, I have heard many people rave about Wagyu, but I had my doubts. I finally had a chance to try this “top grade” Asian beef in the form of a hamburger, and I must say that I was quite impressed.
One of my students recommended that I try the Wagyu burger at 405 Kitchen. Although skeptical, I went there last week and ordered the well-done burger with cheese, on a soft white bun with no onions. The sandwich came with a small side of fries and coleslaw.
My burger was very juicy and tender with a surprisingly awesome and well-seasoned buttery taste. I’ve had some burgers that are totally bland or dry — and others that taste more like grainy fillers than actual beef. However, the Wagyu patty at 405 Kitchen was totally satisfying and worthy of praise. The thin cut fries were also good, and the coleslaw was just okay.
I can’t say that the Wagyu burger stole my heart away, or that it would defeat the Isla Mujeres steak in a taste test. However, I will say that I would certainly go back for more, and I would recommend that others give this cool place a try as well.
405 Kitchen also serves shrimp burgers, chicken burgers and baskets of fried shrimp for those who want something different. Sandwiches are served on your choice of a black, white or brown bun.
When you have a burger craving, and you don’t want fast food, try the “top grade” Wagyu beef burger for a reasonable price at 405 Kitchen. I paid 12k won for a lunch set, which included the burger, fries, coleslaw and a drink. Next time, I will ask for my meat to be cooked even longer. However, if you love sloppy wet burgers, this place is perfect for you.😉😉 😊 ☺
To get there >>>>> Take the Green Line (Line 2) to Gangnam Station. Exit at #11. Walk about two or three blocks to the CGV alley. Turn right up the hill and walk straight. 405 Kitchen will be on your left about a half mile up the hill. (Right next to Brick Oven Pizza).
For more information about Wagyu beef >>>>>>
For more restaurant info and pics >>>>
Posted in SEOUL, SEOUL FOOD, Uncategorized | Tags: 405 Kitchen, Best food in Seoul, burgers, burgers in Gangnam, burgers in Seoul, crafthouse, hamburgers, hamburgers in Gangnam, hamburgers in Seoul, hand crafted burgers, seoul food, Wagyu, Wagyu beef, Wagyu burger, wagyu hamburgers, wagyu meat, Waygu hamburgers, Waygu in Gangnam
Every year, during the Buddha’s Birthday holiday in May, there is a Lantern Festival in Seoul where bright, colorful handmade paper lanterns decorate the Cheonggyecheon (Stream). 2015 marks my first year seeing this lovely display in person. I have seen pictures online for several years of other people enjoying this experience, and this was the first year that I was able to see everything for myself. The large floating lanterns were an amazing site, and I suggest that everyone take some time to go visit the Cheonggyecheon (Stream) during this event. I would recommend taking a taxi there to make sure you are dropped at the right location. Show your taxi driver pictures of the Lantern Festival, and he or she should drive you straight to the right area. You can also check the website below for other directions and other lantern making activities. Have fun!!!!😉😉 😊 ☺
- BIRTHDAY WEEKEND
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