Sunday, January 31, 2010

knitting bee tea

paula, my mentor, hosted a knitting bee tea. she had all kinds of yummy goodies prepared for our tea party. i thought this cake was absolutely adorable. it's a bee hive cake. so cute, and it was delicious too!

while some of us were eating, others were knitting. it was so much fun.

i'm so thankful to have paula in my life. she's such a blessing to me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

ny style pizza

living in california provides all kinds food delicious amazing food. however, one food i miss is ny style thin pizza. so i'm always searching for places that make ny style pizza. one place i found is big mama's and papa's in pasadena on colorado blvd. they are famous for the 36" pizza! you can get one slice for $3.99. i took a photo with my hand next to it so it gives you an idea of the size of one slice.

recently, i returned to mama's and papa's, and i will say that i was a bit disappointed. the crust was too bready. it wasn't really nice and thin.

that's okay, b/c there's another pizza place in pasadena called nonna's pizzeria. i found this place through in my search for ny style pizza. now, this reminds me of real pizza. you have to fold it in half to enjoy a bite. also, you can see the cheese oozing off the side. now, that's what i call, "pizza!"

hm.. now i'm in the mood for pizza. go figure.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

oranges galore

with a plethora of oranges, i searched for a recipe that incorporates this juicy citrus fruit. i was planning on making breakfast for my friend, kevin, i wondered, could there be something like orange french toast?

so i typed in "orange french toast" into google, and google found all kinds of recipes. the one that appealed to me was orange stuffed french toast. ooh.. that sounded good. i've had stuffed french toast at a few breakfast places, and i've never been disappointed.

here's the recipe. i like this one b/c it doesn't call for a lot of ingredients.

Orange Marmalade Stuffed French Toast

8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup orange marmalade

½ cup of crushed pecans (or any other kind of nut)
5 eggs
1 cup orange juice
Powdered sugar to taste

Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese, marmalade, and pecans together, but be sure to keep large chunks of cream cheese. Even though it's called French toast, buy good Italian bread. Cut bread into 1 inch slices, and then cut them in half but leave the end so it opens like a mouth. Spread the cream cheese/orange marmalade mixture between two slices of bread.

Crack 5 eggs in a bowl and add 1 cup of orange juice, beat until mixed together. Use a non-stick griddle, add butter to griddle and heat up. Dip French Toast in orange juice and egg mixture, and then place on griddle.

Cook French toast on all sides, until a nice brown color. Make sure to cook all sides and let it get hot inside.

Remove from griddle onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries or any other fruit.

i made a few adjustments to the recipe. i added the pecans. also i found the cream cheese mixture too sweet. so i suggest cutting the marmalade to 1/2 cup. i used fresh squeezed orange juice from my oranges from the backyard.

the picture may not be the best, but i think for my first time at stuffed french toast it turned out pretty well. i cooked up some breakfast sausages which complimented the french toast. also i plated it with some orange slices. my friend, kevin, seemed to enjoy the meal very much.

what else can i do with my oranges?!

here in california, we may not get snow in the winter, but it still gets cold. what better way to warm up than with a bowl of soup?

i tried a recipe i got from my friend, justine. it's roasted sweet potato and butternut squash soup. i used korean sweet potato (go-guh-mah) which worked just as well.

here's the recipe.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large butternut squash - cut into large chunks and peeled
1 large sweet potato - cut into large rings and peeled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
olive oil
5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper

1. Put butternut squash and sweet potato and onion in a large roasting tray. Dowse with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and add the cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. Roast at 400 degrees for about an hour or until tender

3. Blend the vegetables with added stock in batches to your preferred consistency - should be fairly thick. ( I used a stick blender.)

this will go great with a nice warm sandwich. for dinner, try chicken with rosemary. because the soup is on the sweeter side, something savory will compliment it very nicely.

i enjoyed my yummy bowl of butternut squash soup on this fine rainy day.

as campbell's said... it's good!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

nishikawa tacos

one of the many wonderful things about california is the awesome mexican food. now, before i moved here, i used to think that mexican food was taco bell. i know... but that's how naive i was. i remember in college my californian friends would talk about mexican food and how much they missed it. i would suggest taco bell. they gave me a total look of disgust. puh-leeze.

i really didn't understand until i finally had real mexican tacos in california.

one of my favorite places to take friends is the taco truck located at 510. s. fair oaks ave in pasadena. don't be fooled. there's another taco truck, but we love going to this one. ely introduced me to this place, and i go back all the time. they use two corn tortillas to make sure that it doesn't break as you take a bite. they have all kinds of flavors except vegetarian. (sorry, vegetarians... ). they have asada (beef), pollo (chicken, carnitas (pork), alpastor (marinated pork), chicharron (spicy pork), lengua (beef tongue). my usual is 1 asada and 1 alpastor. total = $2.50. if i'm really hungry, i get another alpastor. you can get it mild or spicy. i get it mild with a double shot of spicy! they topped them with chopped onions and cilantro. squeeze a lemon wedge on top of the tacos. muy delicioso!

they don't have a place to sit, but the fun of going is eating with your plate on the hood of the car. if it's raining, you can eat in the car.

this last time i went the owner let me try the chicharron and the lengua. the chicharron had a nice spicy kick, and i liked the lengua. it was very soft and tender.

so... if you visit me in LA, i will definitely take you to nishikawa tacos! but we can only go after 6pm. before 6pm, it's nishikawa auto service. after 6pm, the tacos are ready. open until midnight during the week, and 2am on weekends.

socal fruit trees

one of the many advantages of living in southern california is the plethora of fruits. what could be better? when they grow in your backyard!

last summer, my white nectarine tree bloomed with delicious fruits! i found a recipe for peach muffins, and i substituted nectarines for peaches. i had so many i started to freeze the nectarines to save for yummy smoothies later.

now as winter has come, i have oranges! my orange tree is blooming with delicious sweet and slightly tart but juicy oranges! when i break off the stem, i can smell the citrus scent in the air.

i found out that in korea one orange can cost over a dollar!

i've been just enjoying them by slicing them up with my breakfast. i haven't done any research on what you can do with oranges. but i gotta take advantage of them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

shoyu chicken tonight

i tried a new recipe from foodnetwork's aida mollenkamp. awhile ago i saw her on the foodnetwork and saved her recipe for shoyu chicken. shoyu is the island word for soy sauce. shoyu chicken is a common hawaiian food. i remember having the best shoyu chicken when i visited maui two summers ago. i can still remember the tender chicken melting in my mouth. oh man... as the islander would say, "it broke da mout."

this recipe was pretty simple, and the ingredients were really easy. for those who are wondering, it does call for mirin which is sweet rice wine which you can get at any asian market. do not substitute rice vinegar. they are not the same thing.

however, i forgot to use the cornstarch, so i left out the last step. i just boiled the chicken in the broth for about 45 minutes. i think the longer you cook it, the more tender it gets.

i ate it with brown rice and korean side dishes. the chicken was so tender it just broke apart easily with my chopsticks. you will be amazed at how easy this recipe is.

i will definitely make this again. next time i'll have to invite some friends!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

deliciously cheap dumplings

after spending a day out climbing, you definitely build up an appetite. so where do you go? my friends and i were in the mood for dumplings. our first choice, luscious dumplings, was going to close too early. usually for soup dumplings, i like to go to din tai fung which is across the street. however, the wait there is always unbearable, and their prices are on the higher end. so by using, my friends and i decided to try dumpling house in arcadia.

we arrived at 8pm, and there was no wait which was great b/c we were starving. right away we perused the menu and ordered:
chive pancaked with sliced beef (pictured above)
hot and sour soup
chive, egg, shrimp dumpling
pork & cabbage dumpling
vegetable dumpling
pan fried pork dumplings
pork soup dumplings
chicken fried rice
broccoli with garlic

the food came out pretty quickly one by one as it was ready. we were starving so we pretty much scarfed the food down. hence i didn't get to take too many photos of the food. however, we did enjoy everything. the dumplings were all a very good size and tasty too. however, i was disappointed with the pork soup dumpling. it didn't have the "soup" like din tai fung. so no juice came out. very sad.

for seven people our bill total came out to about $70 with tax and tip which divided up to $10 per person!!! what a steal!

i couldn't believe our meal was so cheap. if we had ordered all this food at din tai fung our total would have probably been about $25 /person at least.

so.. if you want soup dumplings, go to din tai fung. however, if you're just in the mood for good dumplings, check out dumpling house. great delicious dumplings for a great price!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

girls can grill!

who said only guys know how to grill?

i went up to big bear for a few days to take some time to reflect about 2010. i invited my friend, jean, to come with me.

as always, we wondered about our menu for the weekend. our first night we enjoyed a nice ribeye steak seasoned with crushed garlic and montreal seasoning acccompanied by grilled asparagus, mushrooms and onions. the place we stayed had a grill available. i love grills! i cooked the steak medium rare with just a bit of pinkness. the steak was still so nice and juicy. i lost some onions on the grill but managed to salvage enough for our meal. anybody have tips on keeping onions from falling through the grill?

what do you do with leftover steak and grilled vegetables the next morning? make it into a hearty omelette scramble! it was a perfect way to use the extra steak and grilled veggies. too bad we didn't have any cheese for the omelette scramble. however, even without the cheese, the scramble was delicious!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

black cow

i would have to say that my favorite meal of the day is breakfast! so i always look forward to breakfast anywhere. i love going to black cow cafe in montrose.

my favorite dish there is their banana bread french toasted coasted in corn flakes. because the banana bread is sweet, you don't need any syrup with your french toast.

if you want a bit of savory on the side, i recommend their apple chicken sausage. i like alternating bites between the french toast and the sausage to compliment each other.

Monday, January 11, 2010


oh, how i love cupcakes! after i got back from india, nick dropped by with cupcakes from dots. oh what a treat!

the one of the left was apple pie - cinnamon granny smith apple cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel swirl.

the one on the right was fleur de sel which was a seasonal flavor. chocolate and chocolate. lots of chocolate!

i've never been disappointed with dots cupcakes. they are always very moist, and delicious! and they do a great job with presentation.

kinda makes me want to bake some of my own...

Friday, January 8, 2010

star cafe

after going on a morning hike with jean, we went for an early lunch at star cafe in montrose. it's actually the sister restaurant to black cow cafe which i've gone to many times. however, i had never visited star cafe.

we sat outside enjoying the beautiful california weather. they have a great variety of choices on their menu. on their specials, they potato leek soup for the day. hm.. something to warm my tummy. as i perused the sandwich section, my eyes quickly darted to the eggplant parmesan sandwich-mesquite grilled japanese eggplant sauteed with bermuda onions, marinara sauce, mozzarella & fontina cheese served out their house focaccia bread.

(excuse the photo. i didn't have my camera with me, so this photo was taken with my blackberry. not the best quality, but i had to take a photo to share.)

the potato leek soup was so delicious! i could definitely tell what makes it good.. cream and butter! i loved it b/c it wasn't too salty. it was just right.

the sandwich was amazing! the bread is nice and soft with hints of herbs on top. i love eggplant b/c it's a hearty vegetable. i enjoyed every bite!

i will definitely have to return and try other things on their menu.

if you're in the glendale/montrose area, stop by star cafe. you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

taco soup recipe

here's the recipe for taco soup:

1 pound of ground beef - browned
1 large onion - chopped
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of corn
1 can of green chilies
2 packets of taco seasoning
sour cream
cilantro chopped
shredded cheese

brown the ground beef. pour out any oil. saute onions with the beef. add pinto beans, diced tomatoes, corn, green chilies and 1-1/2 of taco seasoning. add a little bit more water if needed about 1/2 cup. let boil for 30 minutes. if it needs more flavor add more taco seasoning.

serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

goes great with cornbread. i like krusteaz cornbread mix. i just used trader joe's cornbread. instead of using oil, i substituted in melted butter. also i add about 3 tablespoons of honey before baking. everything stays nice and moist.

camping gourmet style

i love going camping! this year i spent my new year's out in joshua tree. it's great to get away from all the traffic (rose bowl stuff) and be one with nature. of course when i go camping, we eat well.

jean and i planned the menu for the weekend. we prep (clean, chop and bag) everything beforehand so that when we arrive, jean just puts it all together. it saves a lot of time when you're out camping.

our first dinner we had beef sukiyaki with napa cabbage, onions, green onions, tofu and enoki mushrooms. this was a great meal to enjoy b/c of the cold temperatures. i think i had three servings. i was stuffed afterwards.

of course new year's isn't new year's without duk gook which is rice cake soup. this is a traditional soup that is eaten on new year's day. jean prepared it with ground beef, green onions, egg, and seaweed. it may not sound so appetizing, but i love having duk gook on new year's. it reminds me of being with my family even though they are 3000 miles away.

our last night jean made taco soup. it was a hit! we actually had so much we offered it to many of our camp mates. in the taco soup, she put in ground beef, pinto beans, green chilies, corn, diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. i made some cornbread beforehand that we warmed up on the campfire grill. the soup is topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro! muy delicioso! the corn bread was great with the warm taco soup. i'll have to ask jean for the recipe so i can post it. so easy!

jean, as always, we ate well! thanks!
huge props to the chef!