Happy 3rd Birthday Maleeya from a month ago



April flew by (actually, May is flying by too…the whole year). I can’t believe it, but it was a really great month full of really fun and exciting happenings for our family. Maleeya turned 3 on April 8th and we had a really fun birthday party for her at the park. About 50 people attended and I made probably the closest amount of food for the size party, without there being a week’s worth of leftovers. We had a really sweet Minnie Mouse theme and Maleeya dressed the part in her Minnie Mouse dress and awesome party hat and crafts made by my sister. We are really getting into this birthday party hosting with all the crafts, food and fun. To my surprise—well, not really—I did some kids’ entertainment: yoga, freeze dance, three-legged races, jump rope hopping, parachute and giant balloons. The kids had a great time and so did everyone else.  We are so blessed and I couldn’t be more grateful for another amazing birthday celebration! Happy 3rd birthday Maleeya, Auntie loves you!
Kale Salad with Raisins, Cranberries and Walnuts

Macaroni Salad with Mixed Vegetables and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Potato Salad with Diced Egg, Celery, Green Onion and Pickles

Roasted Turkey or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Vegan Vegetable Sandwiches with Roasted Red Peppers, Zucchini, Cucumber, and Herb and Garlic Olive Oil

Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches: Capicola, Mortadella, Salami, Ham, Provolone Cheese, Red Peppers, and Pepperoncini

Minnie Mouse Mixed Fruit Platters

Veggie Platter and Dip

Meat and Cheese Platters




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Because I like to cook and eat my own food… My Birthday Dinner and My New Niece Amaya


My 28th year is here and I believe it will be (and has been) one of the best years of my life. I’ve undergone and am still undergoing a great transformation in my life—learning so much about myself, my relationships with others, my yoga practice, my cooking, and overall my whole life and I’m so grateful for this beautiful chance to be myself.  My birthday was on August 20th and it was a beautiful day filled with yoga. Teaching seniors, kids and practicing yoga with incarcerated youth really puts life into perspective. I’m so amazed by the people in my life, especially my yoga students who are more like my teachers than my students because they always show me something new, sometimes challenging, and exciting about life.



I’m so lucky to have my whole family be so close to me and so supportive of my choices in life— I know a lot of people may not be so lucky. My sister and niece made me a gorgeous card, breakfast and lunch, and hung balloons from the ceiling for a most festive atmosphere. My mom and dad bought me the most heartfelt card and some awesome new yoga clothes, seeing as I can never get enough of those. My brother and sister-in-law sent me the funniest card and sweet gift. But I’d have to say my brother-in-law and sister gave me and our family one of the most precious gifts of all: my new niece, Amaya Sayuri, who was born on 8/15, just one day after my mom’s birthday. Both my grandmas sent me wonderful cards with lovely messages of love. More than anything, I’ve felt the most love in my life and it feels really amazing to be able to share that love with everyone.


Brandon never fails to impress me with how amazingly well he knows my taste. He made the most gorgeous farmers’ market basket for me with all types of delicious fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and a beautiful big bouquet of lilies that just blew me away. Also, a really great planner to keep me organized in all my endeavors and such a sincerely thoughtful card. With everything he has to do, all the hard work he puts in every day at his demanding job, he makes me feel special in a way no one else ever has and I love him so much for it.



What I wanted for my birthday is what I always want—to be around the people I love and share food with them—and that’s just what we did. Brandon and I made a delicious meal for my family using my favorite white platters, large serving bowls and fancy family-style plating for all of us to enjoy the delicious items that Brandon bought at the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market.  My family jokes that I always want to cook for my own birthday, but like I always tell my sister, “I enjoy making and eating my own food” and if Brandon helps me, it’s even better. My brother bought me an ice cream cake and Maleeya sang me happy birthday about 20 times.  I’m so glad we could all celebrate together, be together and see our family grow and expand our love to our new little addition.






Roasted Mushroom Marsala Cream Grilled Pork Chops



Herb Grilled New York Steaks



Heirloom Tomato Summer Salad with Mozzarella, Cucumbers, Basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Grilled Purple Baby Artichokes with Garlic and Olive Oil


Sautéed Rainbow Chard with Italian Sausage



Steamed Broccoli and Peas

Roasted Squash and Heirloom Purple Bell Peppers



Sesame Cider Coleslaw with Scallions and Fresh Peas


Herb Focaccia




Thank you to everyone who journeyed with us on this very special day in my life and welcome beautiful little Amaya.

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Granny’s 80th Birthday Celebration and Catering



My grandma is a very special woman. She’s such a loving, kind, strong and wonderful person and we were very happy to host her 80th birthday celebration for all of her friends and family. Granny has always been the talk of the town and never met someone she couldn’t charm or take a photograph of. Her personality is best displayed when she played Choco, the adorable little bear mascot for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Her dancing and friendly waves along with blowing kisses to all the children, led her to be requested put on the suit well into her late 70s.

My sister, my brother and I spent countless hours with grandma when we were little. We’d get picked up and taken all the way out to Huntington Beach to stay with grandma for the weekend; some of my fondest memories as a little kid are feeding the ducks at the park, eating toast and tea for breakfast and having French bread and string cheese for snacks. I associate a lot of joyful activities with food as you can see. Grandma was never short on hugs and kisses or presents and spoiling and she’s passed down the fun to my little niece Maleeya. Grandma has the biggest heart and the attitude of someone half her age. Believe it or not, she still cruises out to Vegas in her Corolla on a whim and vacations whenever she can, all between traveling back and forth to come to visit all of us (over 100 miles away roundtrip).

Brandon and I put on a very special catering for all the guests and we were very happy with the outcome. Brandon was in charge of pastries and I helped him assemble some of them, while I took on the savory options, which he lent a big hand in helping with as well. My mom was assigned the snacks department and made our family’s favorite macaroni and potato salad, homemade beans for the chili and mini lemon cupcakes. My sister made the beautiful flower arrangements, all the gorgeous decorations and photo collages. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and everyone else helped out so much to make this a beautiful, delicious, smooth event for everyone involved. I’m so glad I have this amazing family to call my own. I want to thank everyone who came, who helped, and who made this amazing event happen.
Happy 80th Birthday, Granny! We all love you so much!
Ruthie’s 80th Birthday Party Menu

Fruit Platter
Vegetable Platter
Chips and Dip

Macaroni Salad
Potato Salad
Baby Mixed Greens with Shredded Cucumber, Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Pickled Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing

Entrées: Served Family-Style
Roasted Pulled Pork
Country Spiced Fried Chicken
Homemade Chili Beans

Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy
Peanut Coleslaw with Red and Green Cabbage, Shredded Carrots, Green Onions and Asian Dressing
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Honey Glaze and Marshmallows

Bread Basket
Corn Bread Muffins

Dessert Bar
Lemon Meringue Pie
Banana Cream Pudding
Lemon Cupcakes
Cream Puffs

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Maleeya’s 2nd Birthday

My niece just recently turned two on Monday, April 8th. I can’t believe she’s already two! It really goes by fast and I know that’s a very cliché thing to say, but it does. It feels like just yesterday that my sister told me she was having a baby and now Maleeya is just so adventurous, ambitious and remarkable. She truly is an amazing little girl and I feel so fortunate to be able to see her every day and watch her little spirit grow.

Happy Birthday, Monkey! Auntie loves you very much.




So for Maleeya’s birthday we had everyone over to Encino Park for some food, of course, and lots of other fun things for the kids and plenty of catching up for the adults. Some of my sister’s friends brought their little children and we were able to get a little kids yoga session to happen while the adults watched. I’m so grateful to the little ones who decided to participate, even with everyone watching. It’s amazing how fearless young children are. So we had yoga, party favors, a huge Minnie Mouse piñata, cake and lots of food.

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The menu this year was more manageable with my current work load and shortage of time, but still delicious and fun. I’m so glad I got to cook for over 50 of our closest family and friends. I’m so grateful for all the support everyone has shown me through my yoga and my cooking. I’m truly living a dream I could only have actualized with all of your help. Thank you!








Homemade Balsamic Cumin Barbeque Sauce Chicken

Rainbow Pasta Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, Italian Herbs, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

Cobb Salad with Hard boiled Egg, Crispy Bacon, Roasted Garlic Turkey, Tomatoes, Avocado and Blue Cheese over Baby Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable Platter

Fruit Platters

My mom prepared our grandma’s special macaroni salad and potato salad, as well as Bachan’s triple-layered Jell-O, which are all family traditions at any event. My boyfriend made delicious pork sliders with jalapeno coleslaw—needless to say, everyone loved them.

We had such a great time celebrating my beautiful niece, Maleeya! I can’t wait for next year. :)

These gorgeous photos are courtesy of the wonderful and talented Lyz Cooper, Brandon’s mom is an amazing photographer! Thanks Lyz for capturing such special memories for out family.



Happy Birthday Andy!

I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last couple of weeks. Not that I mind at all, it’s really second nature to me and I’m very fortunate to have lots of family and friends to be cooking for during the holidays. It’s probably one of my favorite gifts to give. The day after Christmas is Brandon’s stepdad’s birthday and we planned to have a big feast to celebrate his 50th birthday with family and friends. So after the great Christmas feasts that we had with my family, we were lucky enough to enjoy making dinner for Brandon’s mom and stepdad and some of their friends. The menu featured some of the food that I made for Christmas, including pozole and using some leftover meat that I had made for the tamales transformed into taquitos and flautas with some creamy salsa verde, spicy salsa roja with yogurt, and guacamole for appetizers. Having two chefs in the family is a pretty big advantage. I think both our families are grateful for that!



Happy Birthday Andy!


Cheese Board with Fig Butter and Crostini
Chipotle BBQ Shrimp with Honey Chipotle Aioli
Beef and Cheese Taquitos and Flautas with Creamy Salsa Verde, Spicy Salsa Roja with Yogurt and Guacamole






Antipasto Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Red Beet Salad with Feta Cheese, Mixed greens and Shallot Red Wine Vinaigrette




Herb Roasted Spicy Dijon and Horseradish Roasted Prime Rib
Roasted Carrots, Peas and Brussels Sprouts
Twice Roasted Potatoes with Sour Cream and Green Onions




Chocolate, Vanilla Wafers and Banana Cream Pie




Happy Birthday Bachan

When I was a little girl, I waited all year long for the days when I could take a little break away from my brother, sister, and maybe even my mom and dad as well, and spend time with my Bachan in Pasasdena. Bachan (or obaa-chan) means Grandma in Japanese and my Bachan is the most caring, loving and strong person I know. Bachan’s birthday was on 7/21 and this year she turned 89 years young.  Last year was a very special birthday for her because in Japanese culture the number 88, when written, resembles the symbol for rice. The prominence of rice in Japanese culture is immense and rice symbolizes purity and goodness. The 88th birthday is celebrated as a joyous and happy occasion. We threw a wonderful party that I wrote about here for that very special day where I reconnected with the flavors of my childhood and Japanese culture.

This week I was lucky enough to be able to teach Kids Yoga in Pasadena to some amazing 6 and 7 year-olds, so naturally I saw it fit to spend some time with Bachan. We told stories, played jenga, watched TV, snacked on Mexican sweet bread and senbei (Japanese rice crackers), ate delicious food, took a walk to the market and went grocery shopping, but most of all, enjoyed each other’s company like I did so many times as a child. Those times, as well as these, are the memories I love; those nostalgic moments of pure love and happiness, things I’m so grateful to be able to experience as well as to have experienced. My Bachan is one of the largest inspirations I have for cooking. She taught me so many things in the kitchen, even though she’ll probably deny it to anyone who asks her. Her inspiration in my life is so prominent that on her birthday, I just really wanted to say thank you, Bachan, for everything.

Bachan knows that I cook often for everyone around me. She always made big meals for my dad and his two brothers and their dad (my Jii-chan) as well as cooking for extended family and friends. She always pats me on the back and says that I did so much work—in those moments I always feel proud.  Bachan wanted to make me dinner the night I stayed with her and I don’t think I could ever have said no. We had a delicious dinner of rice, chirashi, steamed broccoli, green beans and korokke (Japanese potato cakes filled with ground beef and fried in panko bread crumbs).  Everything was perfect. She brought out sauces and miso and it was just as I remembered it all. There’s something to be said about eating a childhood dish that hasn’t changed for over 25 years. I love you, Bachan! Happy birthday.



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



Dinner for 8: Happy Birthday Big Sister Keek‏

Birthdays are my favorite occasions to celebrate. I always have some extravagant plan for someone I love, if it’s at all possible to get done.  The weekend of the 12th my big sister, Kristen, had a birthday celebration for the family, and myself and Brandon cooked for everyone. We decided on a last-minute venture all over the place, including a trip to Oxnard farmer’s market and a couple of other grocery stores on the way home. We cut the preparation pretty close, but my family is always pretty flexible when it comes to me cooking. I honestly came up with the menu last-minute, so it’s good I had Brandon with me so he could fill in my brain gaps with the menu. So here’s what we decided on for the fun of it all. (Some photos are missing)

Appetizers: Buffalo mozzarella, melon, olives, humus, and pita
Whole sautéed head on prawns with garlic
Three color: white, candy cane, and golden beet salad, with prosciutto chips, goat cheese and mixed greens with honey balsamic vinaigrette
Cabernet and Italian herb braised beef and ricotta stuffed shells
Homemade pasta filled with spinach and chicken ricotta and herbs
Homemade basil spinach pesto with pine nuts and aged Parmesan
Vine-ripened red heirloom pomodoro fresco with basil and extra virgin olive oil
Alfredo sauce over chicken-filled fresh tortelli
Tuile cookie with orange pastry cream and fresh blueberries and blackberries
I think my sister was happily stuffed and opening presents like we used to when we were kids. I loved everyone being together and seeing our little addition, Maleeya, join in the fun.  I love my family very much and my sister is a huge part of that love. I love you Keek. Happy birthday, you old lady! Just remember, I’ll always look up to you just like I did when we were little like monkey. You’re the best sister ever.

Little Brother’s Big 25 and Recipe for Pork Chop “Saltimbocca”

As time goes by, it seems that things change and we get lost in the adult whirl wind of life. Though I don’t believe I’m truly an adult at heart, the time has come to come to grip with the fact that I’m not a kid anymore either. I’ll always find humor in being young forever; the people around me of all ages are so young at heart that I could never age myself by dwelling on a number. Seeing as my great-grandma is 97 years old, she’s proof that there’s still so much life to live and no number is going to change that.  My brother is now 25, which is insane. He’s accomplished so much for being 25, I’m proud of him every day.
Me, Kyle in the red and my sister Kristen behind
Kyle, Kristen, and Me
I always picture us so young, but we aren’t and that’s okay too. We’ll always be running around making fun of each other, punching and talking trash to one another, no matter how old we are. I’m so glad to have such an amazing family.
Happy birthday, I love you little brother.
So for Kyle’s birthday I made dinner for our family and his wife’s family as well. There were 11 of us at the table, enjoying each other’s company and the food that was made. I fashioned this menu from some things that came to mind while utilizing my limited refrigerator space after Thanksgiving and refashioning some left over at that.
Balsamic, Honey, Spinach and Arugula Salad with Cucumber, Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Onions
Caprese Salad with Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chicken Marsala with Roasted Baby Bellas, Shitake Mushrooms and Steak Button Mushrooms
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parmesan and Banana Peppers
Tri-Colored Rotini Pasta with Parmesan Cream Sauce, Roasted Green Beans and Honey Baked Ham
Saltimbocca which translates in Italian to Jumps in mouth, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and originates from different places in the world. Traditionally it is a Roman, Italian dish, which includes veal, sage and prosciutto that is rolled and cooked in a sweet butter wine sauce.  This recipe isn’t traditional, but a bit of a spin on what I know to be saltimbocca. I love the use of pork chops in this dish because it’s an elegant way to make an affordable delicious meal, since veal can be costly. So the next time you have pork chops and want to try something new, think about this.
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
15 sage leaves
4 tablespoons butter
5 center cut (½ inch to ¾ inch) pork chops
5 slices Parma prosciutto
5 slices whole milk mozzarella
1 cup  dry white wine or brute champagne (I used left over from the past evenings festivities)
1/2 cup vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Garlic power
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides.
Place in the bottom of large sauté pan, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Heat until sizzling.
Add sage leaves to hot oil mixture and fry until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes (careful not to burn). Then remove from oil and set aside.
Add one more tablespoon of butter to pan and heat until melted.
Then add prepared pork chops.
Depending on thickness, cook on each side about 3 minutes or until golden on each side.
Place in baking dish and add two leaves of sage to each pieces of pork, one slice of prosuitto, and top with one slice of mozzarella.
Add remainder of butter, lemon juice and wine to pan and reduce by half on medium heat about 5-7 minutes.
Then add stock to pan as well and reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
To finish, add cream to sauce until thickened and the sauce comes together loosely.
Taste for seasoning
Add ½ of the sauce to the bottom of the baking pan with the pork.
Finish pork chops off in 400 degree oven for 6-7 minutes, but depending on the size of chops. You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it reads 150 degrees in the center of the chop.
Lastly, place pork chops in the broiler to brulee cheese to a golden brown.
Place on platter to rest 5 minutes.
Heat sauce and ladle over top of chops, adding extra sage for garnish.
Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite vegetables.

Cyrus’s 2nd Birthday… The Candyshop and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Today is one of my favorite little boys very special day. I remember the day my friend Katie called me to tell me she was expecting and thereafter, all the midnight to 2 a.m. phone calls and text messages with horrible stories of pregnancy woes, the countless boxes of Little Debbies, and the joyous call and messages on the day he was born. I was over the top involved with work at that time, but I knew, as soon as I saw this little man, I was in love. His name is Cyrus and he is one of the most precious boys I’ve ever met. He stole my heart and made his mom and I retire our dancing shoes and exchange them for baby clothes. We wouldn’t change it for anything. I love this family and I’m so glad I can be a part of their lives.
Best friends! :)
Happy 2nd birthday my sweet little (or, rather, not so little anymore) Cyrus! I love you so much.
We had a sugar coma inducing party, with all things rich and delicious. A full range of soda pops, lollipops, candy and Elmo cupcakes adorned the table, along with other fun foods for all the kids to enjoy. Our theme was a candy shop with tons of fun balloons and little lollipop crazy straws for the sodas.  I have no idea how these kids slept that night, but a little extreme spoiling is what Katie always wanted for her son.
Here are some of the pictures of the festivities.

The cupcakes I made were a red velvet recipe that is a mixture of vegan red velvet and a southern style red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I love vegan cupcakes because they stay moist for a long time and travel well.
I made red and blue velvet cupcakes and topped these with lollipops and little Elmo faces because he’s one of Cy’s favorite characters.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

4 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Makes 16 cupcakes
Pour soy milk in large bowl with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar and stir until incorporated.  Let stand for at least 8 minutes.
In a separate bowl sift together cocoa, AP flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix together till incorporated with whisk.
After the mixture of soy milk has incorporated, add sugar and oil to mixture and beat on high with hand mixer for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved.
Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on medium until incorporated, about 4-6 minutes.
Fill cupcake cups 2/3 of the way full and cook for 16-18 minutes on the middle oven rack. The cupcakes are done cooking when a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool and then frost with cream cheese frosting or vegan frosting for full vegan cupcakes or any other desired frosting.
Be a kid at heart.