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.
Late Late Late
Better Late than Never. I love Easter!
Easter is one of my favorite holidays, especially since we have little ones to have fun with now. This year, I took the day off and cooked for the whole family. We had a delicious dinner together with tons of fun and laughter. Maleeya and Amaya were dressed in their beautiful Easter dresses and everyone had a great time. Easter and spring are the perfect time for togetherness, reflection and starting over. As we move into the summer months in California, it’s nice to take a break and enjoy a wonderful spring day with family. I hope you’ll enjoy every moment of spring till it’s last.
Roasted Baby Bella Mushrooms
Arugula Salad with Kalamata Olives, Prosciutto, Feta Cheese, Basil, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Zucchini with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Mini Kale and Brussel Sprouts
Sweet Potatoes and Purple Potatoes
Au Gratin Potatoes
Corn and Green Bean Casserole
It’s September. I can hardly believe it. August was so amazingly wonderful, full of gratitude, celebration, family and friends—I miss it already. I was able to go on eight weeks of outdoor hikes with my dad, a family vacation to Mammoth Lakes and to really jumpstart my kids’ yoga business, Little Heroes Yoga, as well as participate in an amazing business course about kids’ yoga called TBoKY The Biz of Kids Yoga by Jodi Komitor. I’m so grateful to have had a wonderful summer, probably one of the best ones of my life. And I’m equally grateful to have a really fantastic fall full of kids’ yoga fun lined up.
But I wanted to highlight some of the amazing food adventures that I had in August. First of the series will be Amaya and Grandma’s birthday celebration dinner in Mammoth. I spent a total of seven beautiful days in the Eastern Sierras this year. I could have stayed for an entire month, but that’s another story. I truly am home when I go to Mammoth; the fresh air, beautiful scenery and just slowed-down pace of everything, makes it the perfect vacation for me. I’ve been going to Mammoth for my whole life and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
It’s so great to see the next generation of little fisherwomen come up to the Sierras with us. We really caught a ton of fish this year. I caught two pretty good sized ones and a bunch of little ones the whole time we were there. We went to a couple of new lakes: Little Virginia and Big Virginia and Upper and Lower Twin in Bridgeport, and even saw a quick hail storm.
Now, back to Amaya and Grandma’s birthday dinner. Well, the two of them have back to back birthdays and kick off our month of celebration. My sister said she’ll never have to get my mom another birthday present, mom’s present just came a day late. My mom’s birthday is August 14th and Amaya, my youngest niece, was born August 15th. My sister, brother-in-law, Maleeya and Amaya came up to Mammoth to celebrate my mom’s birthday and Amaya’s first birthday, which made it extra special for my mom and dad.
We had an amazing time celebrating. I barbequed for Amaya’s birthday and we all enjoyed this fun home-cooked meal.
BBQ Tri Tip
Boiled Fingerling Potatoes
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Birthday cake and big smiles all around. Thank you for sharing with us.
A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I cooked for his dad’s going away party. He’ll be out of state for work for some time so we decided it would be nice to get his friends together and enjoy company while he was still in town. Being in the military is a difficult profession and I can’t imagine what our country would be without the help of so many men and women all over the world who sacrifice so much for our safety.
So for this event we had two chefs and one kitchen. Brandon and I have worked together in some kitchen during various times for the last 7 years professionally, at home, or at someone else’s home/event. You can currently visit Brandon at Blush Restaurant and/or Blind Tiger in Santa Barbara, where he is the Executive Chef.
Though most of my time is spent cooking for my family and teaching yoga, it’s nice to prepare a large meal for wonderful people. We decided to have a massive taco fiesta. Our first go with the barbeque ended up not too successful because the grill wasn’t in working order, so we went for the simple charcoal grill that I’m used to and I grilled the food while Brandon cooked inside. I think overall it was a great team effort. Safe travels, Andy!
Chopped Seasoned Pork
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini
Spanish Bay Shrimp
Mixed Vegetable Sofritas
Chorizo Bean Dip
Salsa with Green Chiles and Garlic
Tortillas and Toppings
Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches
Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple
Rocky Road Pudding Pie
Rocky Road Pudding Pie Recipe
Layered dark chocolate and white chocolate pudding in Oreo crust with marshmallows and chocolate dusted roasted almonds
1 Oreo Crust
½ cup cocoa dusted roasted almonds
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Place cold heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer till thick whipped cream forms, no powdered sugar necessary. About 3-5 minutes on medium speed.
1 small box Hersheys white chocolate pudding
1 ¾ cup whole milk
Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.
1 small box Hersheys dark chocolate pudding
1 ¾ cup whole milk
Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.
Pour 1/2 of the white chocolate pudding into the bottom of the Oreo crust. Top with ½ cup of marshmallows and pour ½ the dark chocolate pudding on top. Mix the remaining pudding together and fold in the whipped cream till smooth. Top pie with the mixture and smooth into a mound. Top with the remaining marshmallows and cocoa dusted almonds. Refrigerate for one hour or more.
After a week of working hard, teaching yoga and witnessing the effects of the holidays on children in my classes, it was really interesting to see the shift in their attention and mood, as well as in their parents’ or caretaker’s moods. When the holidays come up, energy is either very low or extremely high and temperament can be extremely unpredictable. It’s been a good beginning of the holiday season, as I remember to carry a heightened sense of awareness, a commitment to staying with change and constantly reminding myself to embrace the present moment in my teaching, practice, and life.
I am so grateful that I was able to take time to cook a delicious Thanksgiving dinner for my family. Sometimes we don’t really get to all spend very much time together but it’s always nice to share the holidays with my family because they mean so much to me. I took on the cooking. We had our traditional spread of dishes and mom and dad took care of some of the other big items so my oven didn’t have too much wait time between sides. Granny, Maleeya and my sister did an amazing job with decorations and clean up. It’s always a team effort with everyone and I’m so grateful for my awesome family. My brother and sister-in-law brought a delicious pumpkin pie for all of us to share.
My kitchen is a place for me to be completely in tune with what ingredients, ideas and delicious dishes that are produced and I love that. Though I’m not cooking as much as I used to, Thanksgiving was a nice reminder of what I can still do in there. Dinner was ready in no time at all and all of us were able to sit down and eat without too much excess running around. It was Amaya’s first Thanksgiving and Maleeya had a great time feasting on pumpkin pie and everything else we normally save for special occasions. It’s so wonderful to have my little nieces here with us to celebrate our family traditions and make new ones for them to share in.
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with their families and friends. I am so grateful for everyone that has shared their time and love with me on Thanksgiving and to all of you! May the season of gratitude carry you into the rest of the holiday season and throughout the New Year!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Roasted Turkey with Lemon and Herbs
Roasted Zucchini and Cauliflower Gratin
Sausage and Spinach Sautéed Kale
Candied Spiced Yams with Roasted Marshmallows
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Roasted Apple, Pineapple and Golden Raisin Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
Candied Yam Bread Pudding with Fresh Whipped Cream
Mom and Dad’s Contributions
Green Bean Casserole
Granny’s Deviled Eggs
Auntie Linh and Uncle Kyle’s Homemade Pumpkin Pie
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
Thank you to everyone who journeyed with us on this very special day in my life and welcome beautiful little Amaya.
We had multiple Father’s Day celebrations for my dad this year. I’ve been working quite a bit, so we braved the restaurant scene that weekend so we would have more time to be with family instead of cooking and cleaning. My dad is such a special person that we can’t help but celebrate him often. So amongst our other Father’s Day celebrations, I got to spend a little time with my parents and grandma at El Patron restaurant in Reseda, CA. Being in the valley, I’d say we have a great selection of Mexican food choices and El Patron is one of them.
Our service was very good from beginning to end; our waiter was engaged and very friendly. As we looked over the extensive menu, I was impressed to see new and different items on the menu that aren’t traditionally on Mexican menus. They have many vegetarian options for people with dietary restrictions and a kids’ menu as well. The atmosphere is family-friendly, but they have a large patio and bar for the adults.
When we finally figured out what we were going to order—after talking and splitting a pitcher of margaritas—we decided on the Molcajete Cielo, Mar y Tierra (sky, sea and land), which is a large mortar with slow simmered sauce with cactus, tomatoes, shrimp, chicken and steak with cheese and fresh tortillas. The dish served two people, but maybe even could have served three. My mom and I really enjoyed the delicious molcajete, which was easily the highlight of our dinner. The portion and ratio of meat and shrimp was impressive, having served a very ample portion of each protein. My dad ordered fish tacos, which had a really nice piece of fried fish in each one, but they weren’t the greatest fish tacos we’d ever had. My grandma had the chile relleno and carne asada taco combination. The chile relleno was better than I’ve had in a long time; the egg was fried perfectly and the pepper wasn’t too spicy. All of the entrees were served with beans and rice as well as a sweet corn cake.
We had a fantastic meal together celebrating not only my dad for Father’s Day, but also having one last celebration for my grandma’s 80th birthday. I‘m so grateful for my amazing family and all the time I get to spend with them is so precious. I hope everyone had a wonderful time celebrating their dads.
Lala’s is located in the trendy area of Ventura Blvd in Studio City. A hip little area of sushi, bars, small plates and burgers gives variety to the valley locals. On a very special evening with my sweet friend Bryn, we decided that we would like to dine at Lala’s Argentinean Grill. Both of us had passed it many times throughout the years, but never stopped to try it. On Monday night the outdoor patio of the warm spring evening was packed with people. Families celebrating special occasions, special events, couples out to dinner and large parties all enjoying the modern atmosphere, plates of food and good company.
Lala’s is modern in its appearance with subtle ambiance and plenty of seating. The menu is very large with many different options for diners. As we sat to share in a bottle of wine, our waiter was pleasant, but absent for water refills and the finer details of excellent customer service. The service wasn’t terrible, but just not something to really write home about.
As we looked over the menu, Bryn decided on Mahi Mahi and mashed potatoes and I decided that I would try an appetizer sampler of empanadas with one cheese, one spinach and one beef; a tortilla de papa and grilled chorizo; and an arugula salad. As we discussed celebratory events and enjoyed food, wine, and each other’s company, I found the food to be interesting and delicious. The empanadas had a wonderful crust and each of the fillings was piping hot. I liked the addition of deliciously garlicky chimmichuri and tomato salsa. The tortilla de papa was very different. It was a wedge of seasoned potatoes that were cooked till just tender, but still able to hold their shape. The chorizo was a little underwhelming, but the sausage had good texture—I just wish it had a bit more flavor. Bryn’s fish was cooked well and she seemed to enjoy her food. My salad had a light dressing, but was more lettuce than anything else. Overall, the experience was nice. It was good to have a different sample of Argentinian food with great company.
Congratulations on your new job, Bryn. I’m so proud of you and excited for your new journey!
I’m so grateful to take time out to acknowledge some really amazing women in my life. Mother’s day is always a special occasion, especially now that my sister is a mother too. I was lucky enough to help make Mother’s Day cards for all of Maleeya’s grandmas (Grandma, Granny, Bachan and Bubbe). They all received homemade cards, with probably more glue on them than stickers, but for a 2 year-old, they were pretty awesome. It’s so much fun to do little crafts like these for a special treat on Mother’s Day— we made a very special one for her mommy as well.
Mother’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a special Mother’s Day dinner. I taught yoga in the afternoon and then, even though it was over 100 degrees out here in southern California, we had a delicious Mother’s Day surf and turf bbq. My dad brought over some delicious seafood that I simply barbequed over a charcoal grill. We all had more food than would fit on our plates and a simple strawberry banana pie for dessert. I’m so grateful for all the strong, wonderful, sweet and loving women in my life who have shown how to love unconditionally. I hope all you mothers out there had a beautiful time celebrating with the people you love.
Grilled Lobster Tails
Sake and Soy Sauce Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Green Onion
Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream, Butter and Green Onions
Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Button Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic
Green Onion, Broccoli, Cabbage and Carrot Coleslaw with Raisins and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Cucumber, Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes and Blue Cheese Salad
Grilled White Corn
Mozzarella Garlic Bread
Strawberry Banana Cream Pie