Annie visits California

A picture of me at Lost Lake.


A picture of me on California Highway 1.  This place was so beautiful. I felt like I had entered the land of Oz with a splendor of golden California poppies!


Me following the yellow brick road.


So majestic, you just have to be here to believe it.


I was going to lay down in this golden poppy field but I was sort of afraid of snakes!


Is this real? You betcha!


My hubby and I at Pizmo Beach, California.


Me and my hubby's cousin Vicky.


Me and my hubby at Lost Lake.

Hubby and I at Yosemite National Park

I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from my trip to California in April.  I had such a great time in the company and family and friends.  We were scheduled to fly out of Madison on April 20th, but our flight got cancelled and we got rearranged to fly out on Friday, April 21.  We arrived in Fresno around 5:30 pm and picked up our rental car at the Fresno Airport.  Originally I had booked the rental car for 6:30 am Friday.  A good tip to know, even if you do reserve a car and don't show up on time, they still hold a car for you up until the end of business day.  Luckily for us, we did not have to pay extra fees and got our car for the price I was quoted online! Thank you Enterprise!~

Over the course of the week, we drove to Pizmo Beach and made our way upwards towards Monteray.  It was such a beautiful and scenic trip on California Highway 1. I highly suggest it to anyone who wants a front row seat to view the California coastline.  We also visited Yosemite National Park and had a nice family picnic at Bass Lake.  The weather was beautiful and I enjoyed every moment in California.  I also visited all the Hmong stores I could find in the area and sampled their food.  I spent a lot of time retracing my old footsteps from when I used to live in Fresno. Oh how I do miss Fresno and the wonderful memories I had there!  My hubby and I also visited our old high school :-) It was really romantic and sweet.  We also took some drives to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and along the country side by Clovis.  I got the opportunity to eat at Imperial Garden, which I do recommend if anyone ever makes their way to Fresno, go eat at Imperial Garden~! We also had a nice picnic at Millerton Lake with our family.  Overall the week went by way too fast and I yearn to return again soon.  My father in law has been ill since he had a stroke and it was very sad to see him that condition. Please help me pray for him and hope that he makes a speedy recovery!

I was so happy in California. I am going to make plans to find a job there and move back.  If anyone is hiring a web developer / iPhone iOS developer, please contact me!

On my trip I took about 7,000 photos. No kidding! I'll have to make a slideshow and post them all on Youtube for you.  :-)

California is nostalgic for me .... Oh I love you California!



Lunch at Imperial Garden!

Barbeque Pork Ribs

Delicious, soft, fall off the bone barbeque pork ribs!


  • 1 slab of baby back ribs
  • 1 liter of apple cider
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 4 cups crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup any brand of barbeque seasoning or barbeque rub
  • 1/2 cup any barbeque sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Season the ribs with salt, black pepper, barbeque seasoning. Marinate it for a couple hours or overnight.
  2. Fire up the grill and grill the ribs for 10 minutes on each side until it's brown.
  3. In a large aluminum pan, place the crushed ice, chopped onion, and apple cider. Place the ribs on top and seal the top with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the alumimum pan on the grill for 1 hour and a half (or two hours). Cover the grill. Continue to check the pan often so that the pan still has juice. Do not let the pan go dry. If it starts to go dry, add more apple cider or water.
  5. Place the rib back on the grill and add barbeque sauce. Turn it on the grill so that both sides are nicely charred. Serve!


If you don't have a grill, you can also follow these steps and broil them in your oven.

My sewing obsession

Sewing has always been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. We were poor growing up. My sisters and I didn't have a lot of clothes to wear. Most of my clothes were hand me downs from my aunt Molly and from the salvation army. I learned and accepted at an early age that we were poor and that was just the way it was.  Most of my imagination of dresses and things beautiful were all in my mind and transferred onto a paper notebook that I kept in my backback.  I too, wanted to wear beautiful dresses but when I was young I knew it was a far distant dream.

When I was in junior high school, my mom had an old sewing machine desk. I don't even remember how or where she got it. The very first hand made gift my mom ever gave me was a tote bag. It was made of blue and green fabric with a computer desktop pattern. I carried that bag around because it was the coolest thing. A first gift from my mom and it made me happy. I've cherished those memories.  I wish I still had that tote bag.

I first learned to sew on my mom's sewing machine. I only knew how to sew in a straight line and could never really make anything.  We didn't have money so I just sewed from scraps of fabrics and old clothes that I could not wear anymore.  I just liked how it felt to sew and put two pieces of fabric together.  The very first project I sewed from beginning to end was a dog faced pillow made out of felt in my home economics class. I was so proud of that pillow. It made me feel so good that I could create something that gave me joy and made me so happy.  I also sewed my first green "christmas tree" dress at Upward Bound and modeled it in a project showcase. I call it my christmas tree dress because it was made of green satin with lace notions on the edges.  I couldn't follow a pattern so it was free form dress making.

..... Fast forward to today.  I started to feel nostalgic and started drifting back into unfinished business of my desires and hopes when I was  a kid and things I've always wanted to do but never had the chance to do it.  Over the years, I would start a sewing project only to get sidetracked and start on other things.  So one day in December, I started my bag creation journey.

I started making bags, totes, and wallets. I don't have a pattern that I follow, I just make it up as I go along. With each bag, I get better and more efficient in the bag creation process.

I own a Pfaff Smart sewing machine that I bought 7 years ago at a local sewing store in Madison. The store is now no longer there. Haha, I know because I drove by it a few weeks go to find some supplies and it was gone.

I also own a Singer Pro Finish Serger that my hubby bought me as a belated Christmas present just recently. I love it. It is great and is a real time saver!

I made this wrist wallet for my sister Song. She told me she needed a way be hands free and also have a way to carry cash, keys, and simple items.  She told me about this wrist wallet concept and this is my creation from that. It's fastened together by velcro.  It is made of my sister's old black t-shirt.

I made these hmong inspired bags because I was trying to make a bag that represents who I am as a person and my roots.  They are pretty basic and simple. They are original creations by me.  The bag in the lower right was given to Xia, as a prize for coming to my Yumaholic app launch and Scentsy party.

These bags were made because I was experimenting and having fun.  The bag in the lower right was given to Leigh, as a prize for coming to my Yumaholic app launch and Scentsy party.  The bag on the lower left was given to my friend Michele as her party prize too!


White Fungus Mushroom Salad

white fungus salad

This dish has a sweet, sour, tangy taste. It's very refreshing! You can adapt it with any ingredients you like! This recipe makes a big batch that feeds about 10-15 people like the picture above.


  • 1-2 bags dried white fungus mushroom (use more or less depending on your liking)
  • 1/2 cup sliced bell peppers (you can combine red, yellow, green bell peppers)
  • 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion or green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup sliced strips of cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped lettuce
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp (sliced in half)

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fish sauce (I use the Three Crabs brand, if yours is different you may need to adjust the amount)
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp garlic chili sauce (the chili in a jar with green cap), you can also just use thai chilies if you don't have this
  1. Soak the white fungus mushroom in hot water. It's best if soaked overnight but if you are in a hurry, you can soak it for at least an hour.
  2. Rinse the mushrooms clean and break it apart with your fingers into bit size pieces.  You can get rid of any dark yellow spots.
  3. Make the sauce by adding the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, water, and garlic chili sauce in a large bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, add all the fresh vegetables and shrimp together and toss with the sauce.
  5. This can be eaten immediately but best served if refrigerated cold.
  6. Enjoy!

Tip! -- If using bell pepper, you can remove the skin first if you don't like the rubbery skin texture. I usually remove the skin and then slice them thinly.

Please note, this dish can be made ahead of time.  The only ingredient you may hold off on adding is the lettuce because it is delicate and will get soggy sooner.  You can adapt and add/remove any of the ingredients.  Experiment and do come back to tell me how it worked out for you!

Optional ingredients ideas:

  • avocado
  • vermicelli khaub poob noodles
  • jicama
  • cooked green beans
  • shredded papaya
  • other!

Yumaholic and Scentsy Party

These were the awesome ladies who stayed until the end of the party! I wished we would have taken pictures earlier in the day because there were more fantastic ladies who joined us!



Back Story:
My friend Julie Chang Valladolid (currently living in Japan) had a great idea for me to help her do a Scentsy Giveaway so she sent me a mid size warmer and 3 scents to try out back in December.  When I first unboxed it, it was so cute!  You install the light bulb (first time), plug the scent warmer to a wall socket and then you turn it on.  You break a piece of the wax and place it onto the lid and let the lightbulb warm it.  As it melts, it lets off scent! That's it!

During a Christmas party, my brother in law Doua liked my Scentsy warmer and scent so much he asked me to buy one for him.  I usually keep the Scentsy warmer on a table next to the wall in my living room.  On that same night, my niece Alis (she's 2 years old) was playing near the warmer and tripped over the cord and broke the light bulb.  I was able to get a replacement bulb but then on New Years Day, my niece Alis was playing with the warmer and tripped over the cord again. The jar broke in half, it was an accident :-).

I asked Julie if I could buy a warmer for my brother in law and that I needed to buy a new warmer because mine was broken.  Julie suggested I could host a Scentsy party and it could be an online party as well (for guests who live far away and can order online at their convenience).  It was a great idea and I got to thinking, I could combine this with my Yumaholic App Launch Party to celebrate my success launching my cookbook for the iPhone. 

I had then just two weeks to plan this event!

Two weeks before the event:
Invites!!! I invited everyone on my Hmong Food Facebook fan page to attend.  Those who were interested sent me a private message and I invited them on a Facebook Event invite list.  I started to sew every night. I made a bag a night after work. I had planned to give away a bag as a game / door prize for my guests.

One week before the event:
My friend Kia came to help me every day for 5 days. We packaged the gifts I had made as well as the awesome gifts that Julie had sent to me from Japan.  Kia also helped me decorate my house and also made us some awesome cream puffs to eat while we decorated. She's super awesome!

Day before the event:
My sister Song, Myra, sister in law Nancy, brother Kou, nephew Monti, and niece Evangelynne came and helped me prepare for the big day! I don't know what I would have done without them!

Event day:
7:30 am
We started cooking.  My sister in law Nancy made the fawm kauv (steam rice rolls) and I started on the rest of the dishes. 

11:00 am
Xia was the first to arrive! Yay! She drove from Michigan to come hang out with us. I was really happy she was able to join us. It was my first time meeting Xia and her hubby Johnny. Then shortly afterwards Michele and her daughter Asia arrived.  Michele was very sweet, she brought me a lucky plant gift.  Misty, Danielle, and Patty drove from La Crosse to join us! Misty was also very awesome, she made stuffed deboned chicken wings, hot pepper, and sticky coconut rice balls. It was also my first time meeting Misty and her guests!

12 pm
We started the spring roll assembly line.  We had more guests arrive! MyYia, Leigh, and Kowjue. Everyone participated in wrapping the spring rolls.

1 pm
Bulgogi time! At this moment I lost all track of time and guests that were arriving. I did try my best to say hi to everyone and get people situated.  Wow, multi-tasking was hard! I was also hot and sweaty but having a blast from all the energy that was surrounding me.

2:30 pm
Most all my guests arrived! Tricia, KathyJo, Diane, Zong, Pa Houa, Angie & daughter, Nou, Sam ... I know I'm forgetting some names, please forgive me!

We laid out all the food on the table in my living room.  We started with introductions and went round robin answering, "What is your name, location, and tell us something unique about yourself."  It was very awesome to hear everyone's responses! Then I introduced all the dishes and described how each dish was made and the ingredients.  I also asked the guests who brought the dishes to speak about their dishes.

3:00 pm
We eat, buffet style of course!  Oh there was so much food! :-) And socializing! I think Bao showed up around 3:30 because she had just gotten off work.

Menu items were:

  • bulgogi
  • stuffed chicken wings
  • hot pepper
  • spring rolls and sauce
  • meatball on skewers
  • white fungus salad
  • homemade hmong pork sausage
  • steam rice cakes
  • hmong jello
  • rice
  • orange creamsicle drink
  • cupcakes
  • honeydew melon
  • khaub poob (chicken coconut curry)

3:45 pm
I tried my best to do my Scentsy demo. Julie wasn't able to join us because she was in Japan and also in a different time zone! My dummy part I didn't read the "Scentsy Host packet" before hand so I read it while I was doing the demo hahahaha!  I think people got my drift!  There were samples of scents for people to smell and I also lit my beautiful "Be Mine" warmer for everyone to see.  I tried to answer the questions as best as I could but as anyone knows, I am not that good at sales demonstrations.  The best convincing you can get from me is that I love the product!

4 to 5 pm
Somehow I just lost all track of time at this point hehehe. We had about 30+ people so I broke us into two groups to play games.  One group was in my main living room and the other group was in my other living room..  My brother is a game master, so while he was teaching the game to one team "Telestrations", the other team was waiting. I tried my best to socialize and kill time, but eventually I convinced that other team to play "Dixit". :-)  My brother didn't bring his 12 player game, so I had the group break out into partners and played the game.  It was so fun! <3

6 pm
Door prizes! So I had the winners of the Telestrations game (Sam and Micky) and the winners of the Dixit game (Zong and Xia) pick a number from 1 to 20 without going over.  Well, everyone picked the number that was over. So we tried it again and I told the secret number to my niece Evangelynne.  The lucky number was "eight" and my sister in law Sam won fair and square!  The door prize was a "Be Mine" Scentsy premium warmer and a Scentsy scent called "Happy Go Lucky".  Please note, Sam is Alis' mom. It was destined that Scentsy would become part of her life! Hahaha! I then proceeded to have the winners choose two gifts.  Then all the party guests got to choose one gift to take home.  Some people got the lovely japanese bowls that Julie gifted and others got the home made bags that I sewed and the bags of kitchenware accessories. 

6:30 pm
We took pictures in my smaller living room before the guests left!  We should have taken pictures earlier but things got hectic and we didn't have the opportunity to.  Next time for sure, we will do pictures before eating!

My last guest left after all the cleaning was done. Thank you Xia, you came first and left last.  :-) You are a sweetie!  Thank you also Kia for being patient with me and for staying late to help me wrap and decorate. I will remember your good deeds always.  A big thanks to my sisters Song, Myra, sister in law Nancy, Evangelynne, Monti and brother Kou for helping me the entire weekend. I don't know what I would have done without you here.  You guys always stick by my side and back me up always, I'm so grateful and blessed to have you in my life. 

Was that a mouthful or what?  Hahaha okay I'm just giving you the skinny version of the whole event but bottom line is:

We got to meet new friends, eat together, and make memories!


Next time, are you coming to my party?







Lotus Flower Blossom Cookie Recipe

These are delicious lotus flower blossom cookies. They taste kind of like a fortune cookie and are a beautiful display!  It is great to serve as an appetizer for large family events, potlucks, weddings, receptions, parties, baby showers, and any kind of festivities!  They are also inexpensive to make and easy.  You can make a whole batch a day ahead and store in an airtight container.






  • 1 bag rice flour (this equals 4 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 can coconut milk (13 oz)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, mix everything together (except oil because that's used for frying).  Make sure there are no lumps.
  2. Heat a pot on high heat and add oil.  I use peanut oil because it has a high smoke point.
  3. Once the oil is hot, dip your mold into the oil and let it get hot. If the mold is not hot, the batter will not stick to the mold.
  4. Dip the mold into the batter (dip it almost to the top, but becareful not to go to the top). Shake it lightly to remove excess batter.
  5. Dip the mold into the hot oil and then lightly shake/wiggle the handle.  The batter will loosen and fall into the oil.
  6. Cook the cookie for only a few seconds and then remove onto a plate.
  7. To shape the flower, take a small bowl and place it upside down on a plate. Then place the flower on top of it to make it curve.
  8. The cookie is ready to eat when it has cooled.



OLD RECIPE I USED TO USE - thin and delicate texture, melts in  your mouth

  • 2 and 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 can coconut milk (13 oz)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil for frying
  • lotus flower / blossom mold

    This recipe makes about 30-50 cookies

  1. In a large bowl, mix the rice flour, tapioca starch, and all purpose flour together. Make sure there are no lumps.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk. Add the coconut milk and the water. Mix.
  3. Slowly add the mixed flour to the liquid mixture and stir to combine.  Make sure there are no lumps.
  4. If you want to make multiple colors, divide the batter and add food coloring. You can also skip this step if you like the natural color.
  5. Heat a pot on high heat and add oil.  I use peanut oil because it has a high smoke point.
  6. Once the oil is hot, dip your mold into the oil and let it get hot. If the mold is not hot, the batter will not stick to the mold.
  7. Dip the mold into the batter (dip it almost to the top, but becareful not to go to the top). Shake it lightly to remove excess batter.
  8. Dip the mold into the hot oil and then lightly shake/wiggle the handle.  The batter will loosen and fall into the oil.
  9. Cook the cookie for only a few seconds and then remove onto a plate.
  10. To shape the flower, take a small bowl and place it upside down on a plate. Then place the flower on top of it to make it curve.
  11. The cookie is ready to eat when it has cooled.

Win a free download of my Yumaholic App


The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

I will be giving away 5 free iPhone app downloads of my cookbook app Yumaholic!  Giveaway ends December 15th. You can submit multiple entries.

If you don't own an iPhone, you can still use the redeem codes / promo codes and give it as a gift to someone else who owns an Apple product.

All you have to do is enter in your information and attach a picture of a food that you made using ANY recipes on my site.



Hi everyone!

I'm really excited to announce that my cookbook is now finally on iTunes App Store for iPhones/iPods! It also works on the iPad but it is not an iPad application yet (coming soon).  It has about 40-50 recipes that I personally developed over the past year.

Current features of this app are:

  • food recipes, ingredients, instructions
  • categories (to easily find what you are looking for or for idea starters!)
  • shopping list (where you can add items you need to buy to make the recipes)
  • contact me (you can send me emails and feedback if you have questions)

It is a very simple app to get you started on cooking!

I hope that you are able to support me and my desire to make great things.  I am so grateful to all the wonderful support and friends I've made on this food journey!

For over a year, I've spent any spare time I have coding objective-c to make this app.  I'm an aspiring iOS App Developer since 2010. I first learned iPhone app development in 2009 and have loved doing it ever since.  I'm a full time web developer during the day and food crazed Youtube fanatic by night and iOS app developer by late evenings and early mornings.  How do I find time to sleep, right? Haha! Believe it or not, coding comes to me in my sleep/dreams. 

A very special shout out to my husband for helping me prepare the dishes and for sharing some of his prized recipes.  I also want to give thanks to my wonderful and talented sister, Song Vang, for helping me finalize the user interface design.  Many thanks to my loving son, Benjamin for helping me write the music to use in my Youtube food videos.  Much love to my parents who always believed I could do anything I put my heart into.  And most of all, thank you to all my friends and supporters!!!! You make me happy knowing that I can share with you great food!  I'm surrounded by much love. :-)

Download the app on iTunes on your iPhone/iPod/iPad!

Deep fried tilapia fish

Here is my recipe how to make deep fried tilapia! You can adapt this recipe with any fish.


  • 1 pound cleaned tilapia fish
  • 1/2 cup green onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup ladysthumb chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup culantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 lemongrass sliced thin
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 1 thumb ginger sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 4 tbsp oil for the sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups oil for frying
  1. Clean the tilapia fish and cut off the fins with a scissor or knife.
  2. Score the fish on both sides.
  3. In a small bowl, beat eggs and coat the tilapia in it.
  4. Coat the tilapia with flour on all sides.
  5. heat a pan over high heat.  Ad enough oil to deep fry the fish until golden brown. Flip on each side until golden brown and to ensure the fish cooks evenly.  When the fish is crispy on both sides, remove it from the oil and place onto a plate.
  6. In a smaller pot, make the sauce by adding 4 tbsp of oil, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, oyster sauce, salt, tomato, green onion, ladysthumb, cilantro, and culantro. You can use MSG if you like. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs are wilted and the tomatoes are soft.
  7. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve hot.


Catfish Soup Recipe

Here is a very fast and easy hmong / asian catfish soup tutorial. I hope you enjoy it! Please leave me a comment if you try this dish!  Some of you may or may not eat MSG anymore, but I can tell you that MSG does add a different flavor to this dish.  I'm not going to debate if MSG is good for you or not, but people use MSG in soups to enhance the flavor.


2 lbs catfish
3 tsp salt
2 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup shallots
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 lemon kaffir leaves
4 Thai chili, optional
1 cup mint
1 cup culantro
1 cup ladysthumb
1 tsp xyab txob (asian peppercorn roasted and grinded)
3-4 cups water

1.  Heat a pot on high and add water.

2.  Bring water to a boil and add the catfish, lemongrass, salt, fish sauce, tomatoes, kaffir leaves, shallots and thai chili.

3.  Cook for 10-15 min.

4.  Then add the veggies.

5.  Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Serve.