Thanksgiving 2015

I have 6 years of Thanksgiving blogs on Unrivaledkitch, which to me, shows my commitment to being there for my family and I am truly grateful that I have been able to take on this tradition for the ones I love and to share these awesome moments with the people who mean so much to me. Thanksgiving, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite meals to cook. This year I was pretty ahead of schedule with cooking and cleaning, so big thumbs up for me, because, of course, that can be a challenge with an overly ambitious menu. Our Thanksgiving meal has some staples that we always enjoy and then the rest is open to my interpretation, which is the fun part for me.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Brandon joined us for Thanksgiving this year and I asked him to sit out for the cooking. He cooks all year long and sometimes someone else cooking for you is just the thing you need. I know, when I was cooking, that’s how I felt. My mom and grandma brought a bunch of snacks and sweets and we all made a beautiful meal together. I am so grateful for my family and all the sacrifices and success we have had, and to our extended family, friends and beyond, we hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving with the ones you love! And here is what we ended up with this year:

IMG_5126 IMG_5080 IMG_5103 IMG_5117 IMG_5115 IMG_5110 IMG_5123 IMG_5107

Brined Turkey with Roasted Aromatics, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Roasted Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Hassleback Red Rose Potatoes
Bacon, Leeks, Sausage and Roasted Wild Mushroom Cornbread Dressing
Zucchini, Celery, Scallions and Black Olive Stuffing   
Roasted Cream Corn with Turmeric and Bacon
Creamed Spinach, Broccoli and Green Beans
Roasted Yams with Brown Sugar, Marshmallows and Cinnamon
Sweet Potato Casserole with Agave, Granola, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice Marshmallows
Pomegranate & Guava Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Steamed Corn
Roasted Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
Honey Baked Ham
Bachan Jello
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Rice Krispies Treats
Spinach Dip
Pimento Cheese
Deviled Eggs

Maleeya’s Minnierella 4th Birthday

DSC05802 DSC05806 DSC05828DSC05800


I can’t believe that Maleeya is already 4-years-old. It’s almost a month later and I’ve been slacking on my food blogging, but this was a very special birthday party catering and since I’ve blogged about each of her birthdays, I can’t stop at 3. So here is the 4th edition.

DSC05761 DSC05759 DSC05750 DSC05751 DSC05752 DSC05753 DSC05756 DSC05757 DSC05748 DSC05746 DSC05745 DSC05740 DSC05772 DSC05773 DSC05777

This year Maleeya had a Minnierella (Minnie Mouse as Cinderella) themed princess birthday party for her friends at our house. My mom made Maleeya’s beautiful pink dress for her Minnierella costume and my sister decorated the house. Everyone enjoyed playing games, catching up, delicious food and togetherness and I don’t think we’ve ever had so many people in our house at one time, which was really fun. We had a special feast of Maleeya’s favorite foods for her party. I asked Maleeya what she wanted to serve at her birthday party and her list was as follows: latkes, fruit, veggies, salad, chicken, strawberries and cake. So with those directions in mind, as well as some special Vegan and Gluten Free requests, I came up with this menu and we had a blast.




Fruit Tower and Melon and Grape Platter

Fresh Vegetable Tray

Sweet Sesame Chicken Skewers

Turkey Meatballs

7-Layer Bean Dip

Pico de Gallo

Grilled Sweet Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Italian Pasta Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Bread Basket


Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate this very special little lady, or as she liked to be known that day, Minnierella. Happy fourth year of fun, love and excitement, Mighty Maleeya!




Maleeya’s First Birthday Celebration and Catering

My niece, Maleeya, just recently turned one on Easter, which was April 8th, so we decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate Easter with our family, including a small birthday celebration for her and then, the following Sunday, have her huge birthday celebration at the park. First birthdays, and birthdays in general, are a huge deal for the Fujitaki family, so we knew it was going to be a big production to get everything together; naturally, I was in charge of the food. As the number of guests grew and grew as we approached the party date, I knew that I was in for a good weekend full of catering and cooking, which felt nice because I haven’t done a large event in a while, but boy did my body feel it after cooking for 14 hours, not to mention the countless hours in preparation, shopping, organizing and sourcing. Needless to say, I slept a lot the next day and took a completely necessary yoga class to get my aching back and feet back to normal. 
I didn’t have time to make the cakes but these are pretty darn cute!
The final count for Sunday was about 65 people and I think there seemed to be even more people than that. I have no problem making a lot of food for a lot of people, but with space limitations, refrigeration limitations and my new time limitations (aka Yoga Teacher Training), I found myself planning a different sort of menu.  One person cooking for 65 people in a residential kitchen can be a tricky thing, but with a little patience, a lot of intuition, and a calm demeanor, anything can happen.  I want to thank my sister, my parents and our friend Valinda for helping me put the last minute touches on everything and hauling it over to the park. The whole party was such a success with everyone’s help and I’m so grateful to be a part of such an amazing family and extended family and friends. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see how much love is surrounding this amazing little girl and how it shapes and molds her lovely little soul. Happy Birthday Maleeya! Auntie loves you so much.

Roasted Chicken, Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Basil Pesto Sandwich on Rosemary Garlic Bread
Chinese Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Char Siu) Sandwich on Toasted French Roll with Spicy Asian Mayo, Cucumbers, Pea Shoots and Carrots
Roasted Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Quinoa
Sliced Turkey Pinwheels with Hearts of Romaine and CheeseScallion, Black olive and Celery Potato Salad
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Colby Jack Tossed in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Orzo Salad with Stripped Beets, Broccoli, Cranberries and Fresh Spinach Tossed in Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Honey, Peanuts, Carrots and Granny Smith Apples
Vegetable Platter And Fruit Platter



Happy Birthday Viet Linh; Dinner at Raphael

My sister-in-law, Viet Linh’s, birthday is just one day before my sister’s birthday.  I’m always exhausted and super busy during March, but it’s always fun. For Viet-Linh’s birthday I was happily invited to dinner at a beautiful restaurant called Raphael.  It’s located in the very up-and-coming area of Studio City, where plenty of good food is feeding the mouths of the lavish dining culture in the valley. The clientele is a bit older here, but the décor speaks something of class and elegance.

As we perused the menu, we were told by our very attentive waitress that the restaurant’s menu is devised as a small plates menu and that two or three choices per person would be sufficient for sharing and consuming.  My brother and his wife had been here before so they decided on a couple of their favorites and then had me choose some as well. We ordered a good sampling of the menu’s diversity and decided to start with eight dishes and then order more after, in order to see which ones, if any, we would like to have again.

mussels, chorizo, white wine, grilled bread
 This dish was decidedly plain, a bit on the flavorless side, with the chorizo being very mealy instead of a crisp addition.
charred octopus, soffrito, romesco verde, “ajo blanco”
This plate is visually stunning. The flavors are interesting, but nothing was very aggressive or intense in flavor, like I thought when I first saw the dish, but still very good.
black cod, caramel, Vietnamese spiced duck broth, herbs
Probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The spices were aggressive and the duck broth was flavorful and bright, with the addition of a bit of sweetness and the buttery flesh of the perfectly cooked cod. This is a go to dish for Raphael.
albacore tartare, Thai flavors

An interesting presentation and a good flavor profile for a classic preparation. Nothing over the top, but a very well executed, delicious dish.

roasted beets, goat cheese, coffee
Visually stunning. The beets were perfectly roasted and their texture wonderful. I don’t know if I generally like the combination of flavors here with the dusty coffee. It didn’t have a very pungent flavor. A beets dish nonetheless; nothing over the top, but wonderful presentation.
hawaiian kampachi tiradito, crispy shallot, chile vinaigrette, cilantro, finger lime

Lovely Kampachi. Kampachi is one of my favorite fish, especially when turned into a delicious raw preparation, such as this. The flavors were well-rounded with spice, salt and acid and I loved it.

fried chicken, grilled frisee, mashed potato, chorizo gravy
not pictured
This fried chicken is first sous vide and then fried, leaving the large round mound of meat in the inside, very tender, and the outside, very crisp. It’s a delicious dish with very light and fluffy mashed potatoes and a salt riddled gravy. A highlight in the meal.
pork belly, Vietnamese flavors
This pork belly is served very crispy on the outside and with a delicious pate, almost like a Vietnamese style banh mi, with pickled carrots and daikon, as well as some fresh cilantro. Very appetizing and a wonderful set of textures.
veal cheek, farro “risotto”, truffle

Farro is one of my favorite grains and I’m glad we decided to get this dish, because it was just the perfect luscious consistency. The veal cheek melts in your mouth and the crunch from the hearty farro kept me coming back for more. Well done.
pork tenderloin

The flavor of the dish was good, but by the time I had it, it was difficult to decipher everything in the plate–there was so much going on. The pork was cooked well and the plate itself beautiful.

banana bread pudding tempura bananas, peanut brittle, housemade peanut butter ice cream

I’m not a big fan of bananas, but my sister loves this dessert: it’s her favorite. It was rather well done. I liked the peanut butter ice cream.

lemon meringue three ways

My favorite pairing is raspberry and lemon. The textures and different styles of making the creams and foams of the dish was masterful, interesting and like nothing I’d ever had. I loved the whole thing.
The whole meal was really an interesting progression of flavors, interesting techniques and different ideas put together. Chef Adam and company are doing a wonderful job showcasing flavors of the season and their own multicultural style and I can appreciate and learn from their style and techniques. Thank you for a wonderful meal.

Afternoon Lunch with a Sweet Friend; Happy Birthday Jo!

Joanna is my Asian sister from another mother. We have high adventures including copious amounts of flowing mimosas or wonderful bottles of wine, delicious food, lots of life chats, and plenty of shit talking. We’ve grown and changed along with one another and made it fun and sometimes difficult, but we always know we’ll be there for one another. Joanna’s birthday was at the beginning of the month and because I have so many Pisces around me, this month I wanted to dedicate a blog to one of my favorite fish, Joanna.

A little while ago, we decided to take an afternoon off from life and share in a good meal. We met up half way between where the two of us live, in Westlake Village, and went to The Grill on the Alley  This restaurant is beautiful, not to mention glamorous, interesting and classy, but not overly pretentious for an afternoon lunch. The large, glass, open-kitchen showcases an immaculate spectacle of many cooks doing just what they do: making delicious food.  With a spacious outdoor patio for additional seating, this large restaurant provides many different styles of dining from casual to elegant.
Our waitress was kind and attentive, but without over inquiring and allowing us to enjoy an afternoon of chatter. We started with a delicious plate of fried calamari that was well fried, delicate and delicious. I ordered a steak salad, which came to the table towering and could easily be shared between the two of us. The portions are very generous here, so next time I think we’ll share something instead.   Joanna enjoyed a French dip sandwich with thinly sliced beef and a nicely toasted roll. Both of us were happy with our choices and our bottle of wine nicely complimented our lunch. We spent the rest of the time overlooking our choices for the future and being extremely full.  A delicious afternoon with a best friend. What more could someone ask for?

Chicken and Biscuits

I have a great love for American comfort food. I know most people tend to think of comfort food as just southern style but what I’m talking about are the dishes that comfort us in our own way. My mom fried chicken that she shook in flour and the smell of the crispy skin coming out of a paper bag she used to drop the chicken in, to take the oil off, was mouthwatering every time. Maybe this fried chicken isn’t my mom’s chicken, but it’s still pretty damn good. I love the addition of smoked paprika, parsley, garlic and lots of black pepper, making this chicken a different style of excellent. I served my chicken with a very simple homemade buttermilk biscuit along with honey or strawberry jam. I hope everyone has a little fried chicken in their lives.

Fried Spiced Buttermilk Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces for frying or buy a package of pre-cut pieces

3 cups buttermilk

Approx. 2 ½ cups – 4 cups all-purpose flour (depending on how much dredging you do)

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried parsley

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, pour buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon dried parsley to the buttermilk and then add chicken and cover. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Take chicken out of the buttermilk and shake off excess buttermilk.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Place flour in a large Ziploc bag with smoked paprika and teaspoon of dried parsley and then shake together till well incorporated.

Add chicken to flour, a couple of pieces at a time.

In a large heavy bottomed pan or cast iron skillet, pour vegetable oil to about 1/3 of the way up the pan.

Heat oil until about 325 degrees.

Place chicken in hot oil after excess flour is shaken off (make sure not to overcrowd chicken).

If necessary, cook chicken in two batches; skimming oil after each batch.

Cook about 10-12 minutes on each side. The internal temperature of your chicken should be around 175-180 degrees.

Drain on a rack over a sheet pan sprinkling with a bit of salt just after taking out of the oil  and consume or keep in foil in a warm oven till ready to eat.


Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour sifted and extra for rolling out dough

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick butter, sliced into 8 pieces and frozen

Plus 1 tablespoons of melted butter

3/4 cup buttermilk


Heat oven to 475 degrees.


In a large bowl, place sifted flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and incorporate well.


Add one piece of frozen butter at a time to the dough, either with a pastry cutter or a fork. Mash the butter into the flour mixture to create coarse dough.


Add buttermilk a little at a time till everything comes together well. Do not over mix.


Take the dough and place on a floured surface. With your hands, gently press the dough together to form a medium-sized rectangle, then cut it into about 11-12 biscuits, which are about 1/2 inch thick.


On a sheet of parchment with flour, place the biscuit and freeze for about 25 minutes.


Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet. With a brush, paint the tops of the biscuits with the tablespoon of melted butter and cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes or till golden brown.


Serve right away.





Why Write Recipes When You Can Just Cook?

I cook often. If I could blog as easily as it seems for me to whip something up to eat in the kitchen, I’m sure I could fill another four blogs with my recipes. But as most of you know, I cook with more intuition than I do with recipes. Recipe writing is an art, a skill, a talent and I’m trying my hardest to be able to do more of it, but sometimes it’s very difficult for me to do so because I was never taught to cook from recipes; I was taught by watching the people I love, make the food they love.  I hope even if there aren’t recipes per se on my blog about everything I cook, if you’re curious about how to make something or how I’ve made something, you do a little research – say hello, drop me a tweet, facebook comment, e-mail, or whichever way we chat, let me know and I’ll come up with a way for you to make it happen. Here are some of the dishes I’ve photographed in the last week of ideas and meals we’ve enjoyed at home. I want to come back and write recipes for them all, hopefully one day I will. But here are the descriptions and a couple of quick recipes. I hope you enjoy these tasty ideas.


Romaine Hearts and Arugula Salad with Minced Beet, Pears, Pistachios, Avocado, Cucumber and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 romaine heart, cored and sliced into small pieces

8 oz arugula

1 large beet, boiled or roasted, peeled and minced into small pieces

1 avocado, diced

1/4 cup of shelled pistachios

1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced

½ hot house cucumber, sliced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper


To make dressing

Add balsamic, honey and Dijon together and add a pinch of black pepper and salt. Mix together well and then slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil till incorporated. Use less or more oil for your desired consistency.

Combine all vegetables in large bowl, except for beets, and toss with vinaigrette.

Before serving, sprinkle on minced beets and consume.

 Black Pepper and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with White Wine Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce and Lemon Zest served aside Roasted Red Potatoes

Roasted Red Potatoes

Approx. 3 lbs of medium to small-sized red potatoes, quartered and washed, but not peeled

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced sage

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

4 cloves garlic, minced



In a large pot, add red potatoes, cover with cold water and add salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook potatoes in water until almost done, about 15-20 minutes, but still having firmness when poked with a fork.

Drain water from the potatoes.

Place the potatoes in large bowl and add a couple pinches of salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, and ½ of the oil, incorporate well and place on a large baking sheet. Then pour the rest of the oil over the top of the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in preheated oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Take potatoes out and shake and stir them loose to roast other sides another 10-12 minutes, till crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside.

Serve with your favorite meat or vegetables.

Carrot California Chile Colorado with Braised Beef served over Black Rice with Roasted Beet Greens and Garlic and Romaine topped with Avocado

Sliced Turkey, Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, Almond Butter, Spicy Carrots and Rice Noodles topped with Almond Cilantro “gremolata”

New York Strip Milanese (New York Steak seasoned with cumin, coriander, black pepper and lemon, then breaded in panko and deep fried) served with Slow-Cooked Black and Pinto Beans with Roasted Garlic and Tomato Spanish Rice

Potato, Sausage and Kale soup with Red Pepper Flakes and Parmesan




The Disneyland of West Hollywood Pancake Houses: The Griddle Cafe.

On a weekend morning, with the sunshine in full effect, the girls and I decided that pancakes were in order. I’m not much of a breakfast person, but the ladies (Stephanie and Bryn) are and they’ve been raving to me about the delicious offerings of The Griddle Café for long periods of time, so we hopped in the car and went over the hill. I would most likely never trek over the hill for pancakes, but this place may have just changed my mind. As you pull up to Fairfax and Sunset, there’s a Rite-Aid on the corner with convenient parking for The Griddle Café. As you make your way through the hoards of people waiting in Disneyland-length lines for the amusement park of pancakes, you have to know there’s something trendy, if not just downright delicious, behind the minimalistic charms of such a petite place.
As arrive, we find ourselves standing in lines that rival the Small World, complete with a waiting time of about half an hour. I caught myself thinking, “Can I get a Fastpass?”  Lucky for us, Bryn had arrived early so she was able to put in our name, while Stephanie and I  fought our way though Hollywood and finally found a parking spot. We were asked if the counter would be okay, and seeing as if  we would probably have an even longer wait  had we refused, we were inclined to sit diner-style at the counter, which sat about 20 people in a long U-shape.  After we were seated a very busy staff came over to take our orders for drinks, just water and coffee. The coffee came in a lovely small French press and we were asked if we would like light, medium or dark roasted coffee; I ordered dark roast.  The coffee was delicious and well-brewed, having a very dark roasted aroma and full, earthy body.
After perusing the menu, Bryn ordered ‘Tis the Season: a pumpkin pie-filling pancake served with whipped cream. The pancakes were so light and fluffy and the light flavor of pumpkin and subtle hints of pumpkin pie spices made for the perfect pancake. Stephanie ordered Saturday Morning Fever, which were pancakes made with Kahlua and Bailey’s liquor, in light and delicious buttermilk pancake batter; the liquor is very prominent and delicious creating lively and interesting pancakes.
I ordered Poached y Papas Benedict, which consisted of seasoned potato skins topped with poached eggs and a tender ham steak. I ordered it with avocado, adding a little freshness to the dish. The ham steak was tender and delicious. The eggs were poached perfectly with a runny center, making the whole dish extremely rich. My only issue was the hollandaise, which was a bit overwhelming with its ratio to everything else, but overall a very delicious savory item.
The atmosphere is fun and exciting while the kitchen is working harder than most places will ever have the privilege to work. The chefs/cooks are truly an amazing and eye-opening service to watch. With an open kitchen in the center of the breakfast house, their ability to adeptly adjust to the continuous tickets and the vast amount of batter and eggs that are being scrambled and cooked, is beyond belief. The Griddle Cafe is doing breakfast the right way.

La Super Rica, Hollister Brewing Company, Jeannine’s in Santa Barbara

The first part of this adventure is here. Enjoy :)

We then waited until hunger struck again, which ended up being around 9:00 p.m. and headed over to downtown Santa Barbara to La Super Rica. This is a very famous restaurant in SB. They are known for being one of Julia Child’s favorite joints, as well as being featured on numerous other things, none of which I knew, but Michelle had been wanting to go, so we went. And I can see why this place is famous. We went pretty close to closing, so there wasn’t a very large line or really much of a crowd. We were greeted by the owner, still taking orders and busy making food even that late into the evening, which I always know is a sign of respect and hard work. We ordered a bunch of different things: pork tamal, vegetable tamal, carne asada taco, chorizo and cheese with fresh tortillas and guacamole. I could just sit there and eat the tortillas and the masa if I had to, because they were so good. These tamales were the perfect mouth melting texture, where you don’t even have to really chew in order to eat, they just dissolve with fresh corn and lard flavor. You can watch the ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen pressing each tortilla fresh and placing it on the flat top to warm them through. There are three different salsas to choose from: a smokey spicy chipotle flavored sauce, salsa verde and a pico de gallo. Everything was really delicious and we left with more than enough food in our stomachs.

After this, we headed out to have a beer and a chat at Hollister Brewing Company. The bartender was very kind. I had the house brewed stout, which had lovely chocolate hints, delicious and rich. Michelle had pumpkin ale, which was very fall forward and smooth. We also had a glass of Pinot Noir on the house, because it was poured by mistake. We chatted about craziness and caught up on the latest of late, then headed back to the apartment to turn in. Noticing an immense difference of life the two of us have gone through, I’m so glad I have an amazing friend whose friendship shows no bounds. Throughout our lives we know we’ll be there for one another, even if it’s not every day or even every month; we’ll still converse as if we just got out of class together.

The next morning we woke up and had a little chat, got ready and headed downtown for a nice breakfast and a little more time to catch up before I headed back home. We made our way down to State Street and walked the bulk of shops that lined the streets with the other interesting people trying to get a little early morning stroll and breakfast. We stopped for brunch at Jeannine’s  a lovely little café and bakery, setup in a European style setting with cordial, stylish faculty promptly greeting guest as they arrive. You stand in line and order food with a menu that is presented to you upon entering. A lovely line of house made pastry and a perfectly setup coffee and tea bar awaits you. The tables are well-adorned and the staff is fantastic, professional and pleasantly helpful.  We ordered two dishes; Michelle had salmon hash with potatoes, and poached eggs, while I had a goat cheese, asparagus and fresh corn omelet with mixed potatoes. I loved my omelet. The eggs were light and fluffy and the filling was refreshing and delicious. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and everything was just very tasty and skillfully prepared. The potatoes were seasoned nicely and the whole plate came together cohesively. Michelle’s food was also amazing—freshly flaked salmon and perfectly poached eggs were a highlight on the plate. I loved this atmosphere and the food was an experience and not just a second thought. You can really tell these people believe in their business and I just love that.

We had such an amazing time together eating and enjoying each others company. I look forward to another fun visit with my amazing friend who’s joined me on so many of my adventures in life. I love you Michelle! Good Luck with school, see you around Thanksgiving I hope :)




Laughlin, NV with Mom and Grandma

Life is a funny thing–just think about it. When we think the same hum drum happenings couldn’t get any worse, they do; and when we decide life is peachy as a whipped trifle on a sweet summer day, it sometimes is. I love that I’m not talking about worse gets better and better gets worse, because we can focus on those terrible things every second of every minute of our lives and everything is somehow cyclical, but I’d like to think about the beautiful moments in life and the wonderful pieces of happiness that freshly follow me around. The rest we’ll figure out later.

I’ve just come off a great set of adventures. A lovely, interestingly strange and a tad bit awkward trip to Laughlin, Nevada with my Mom and Grandma, as well as a breathtakingly gorgeous and extremely whirlwind catering adventure to Lake Tahoe for a wedding with my good friend and old co-worker, Brandon. Both of these trips were very impromptu, but much needed. As you know, I have a terrible travel bug that is awesomely running my life as we speak. I’m so fortunate and grateful for all these amazing experiences and also to be able to share them all with you as well!

Laughlin was a Sunday through Thursday trip of interesting happenings. I love my mom, but it seems we have never really been able to get away on a vacation with just the girls. Being so much alike definitely puts a couple of bulls in a china shop at times, but we love each other fiercely and would do anything for one another. My mom is my love, my heart and has shown me how to care for people beyond the normal parameters of what love can contain.   My Grandma Ruthie is an amazing person, at 78 years young, she’s so full of life and love for everything she does. Grandma Ruthie is one of my great inspirations. This woman is the person I get my flighty, witty and sometimes unruly attributes from, but don’t tell her I told you. So finally, I was able to make it on the road with these two wonderful women and share some cocktails, food, a couple of pennies in the slots and a good time.


Laughlin is Las Vegas without the glitz and glamor for mature adults. I’m not trying to understate it, but we were staying during the week and I’d say the majority of people in the casinos were in the high 50s and above, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, but I found it hilarious and fun. Food in Laughlin is a bit on the turn your head the other way and eat because you’re starving side, which is tolerable for vacations to the desert. Laughlin is on the border of California, Arizona and Nevada. I think it’s pretty awesome to be in three states  within the hour. Also, the road to Laughlin on the Arizona side is pretty intense, like a mini roller coaster that my grandma and I had more fun on than my poor mom, who suffers from motion sickness; however, she was definitely a trooper.

We stayed at the Tropicana Express, free of charge for four nights, so who can complain. The rooms were nice. We had a view of the pool and of course my favorite feature of hotels is air conditioning. Boy did we need it! During the entire trip the weather was in the 100s–talk about melting.

We ate at coffee shops/diner-type places, where the food was pretty much the same on each menu; everywhere serving simple American classics and seeing which place could get the better deal on flap jacks and eggs for $3.99.  I had a Cobb Salad at the Riverside Riverview Restaurant our first night, where, even in the dark, you could see the moon beaming off the Colorado River. Gorgeous. Grandma Ruthie and Mom both had hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was stick to your ribs good. As for my salad, well let’s just say I could have passed on it, but the turkey my mom had was juicy and delicious.

We had breakfast at the Colorado Belle overlooking the Colorado River; dinner at the Pioneers restaurant Boarding House ; buffet at Harrahs; and popped into a place in the Golden Nugget called Harlows. I had a Cesar salad, my mom had fish and chips, and grandma had chicken fried chicken which was interesting and good. The food here was amongst the best offerings of the area with very pleasant service.


I’d say the Fresh Market Fair Buffet at Harrahs is a lavish display or mismatched globally traveled foods for any pallet even better after a few good rounds of cocktails of course, which are the best and most well-served along the entire row of Casinos.

Laughlin is a great place for a little poolside, hotel side relaxation getaway. I enjoyed my time with my Mom and Grandma immensely–times we can never get back and will always cherish. I love you Mom and Grandma!