Christmas is for family traditions.

 



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It wouldn’t be Christmas without a massive cooking extravaganza and that’s just what it was this holiday season. I was able to have time time off from teaching to just work on tamales and pozole and hang out with my family and enjoy every minute of my time with them. I truly cherish these memories with all my loved ones and the time I was able to spend with my nieces as they enjoyed our holiday traditions. It’s completely amazing. Holidays can be a bustling time of the year, but I truly stayed present to the fun, giving, loving, community-inspired essence of the holidays that I absolutely love so much.

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I have been making tamales every year since 2008. It’s a nice way for me to work on some of the bits and pieces of my recipes and come out with a really solid tamale that my family and friends love. This year I got a beautiful new mixer from Brandon, which helped tremendously because my old one was completely worn out.  My mom had a chance to put some together herself this year and I can say that I’m pretty quick when it comes to assembly. The stocks, braising meat, making the salsa, rehydrating chiles, roasting chiles and tomatillos and everything else that goes into tamales is a labor of love. So when you taste a really good tamale, remember that it probably wasn’t fast food and take some time to truly enjoy it.

 

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We went to visit my great-aunts and great-uncles at my grandma’s childhood home. Of course, I couldn’t go there empty handed, so this year I brought them a pot of my pozole. I have to admit, the pozole was rather delicious this year, with just the right amount of spice. pozole is another recipe that is a labor of patience and practice. But soup is a soul food and it truly is a nourishing dish. There is nothing like a hot bowl of pozole with all the right toppings on Christmas morning.

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I hope whatever traditions you and your family and friends have, they are something to keep passing down to the people you love and sharing the things that make you happy, grateful and inspired. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year! Stay tuned for my Japanese New Year annual Oshogatsu post of osechi ryori.

 

Cheers,

 

Unrivaledkitch

 

Thanksgiving Gratitude 2014

Better Late than never….

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I love Thanksgiving! It is truly my favorite meal to make of the year, not because we have the same traditional things, but because it’s tradition to be together with my family. I am so glad we get to keep this tradition alive and thriving with my nieces. This Thanksgiving was also my brother’s birthday, so it was an extra-special occasion.

 

My sister and I braved the grocery stores on Wednesday morning so I could get all the ingredients for a meal that pretty much fed us for what seemed like a week, but that’s the best part of Thanksgiving–cook for a day or two and then either just reheat and eat or think of something else to do with the rest. I’m glad my sister came with me to the grocery store because I really dislike having a cart and having to maneuver one when the stores are super crowded, so she took care of that for me, which was a great help! Thanks, Keek.

 

So after a few stops and various places with enough groceries to just pack the fridge almost to explosion, I had a good idea of what we were going to enjoy. I’m not the type of person to ponder the menu a month or even a week in advance, I just looked at the ingredients and made things, which is my favorite way to cook. I’m grateful I have a family that pretty much let’s me have full reign over what we eat for Thanksgiving, trusting and knowing I’ll make those traditional dishes that they like each year while incorporating some new ones.

 

So here it is, Thanksgiving 2014 from Unrivaledkitch. I hope your families and friends feasted over great food, good company and tons of togetherness and gratitude. I’m grateful for all of you who take a gander at my food musings, for all the support, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.

 

Here are the past 4 years of Thanksgivings documented on Unrivaledkitch.com I love that these memories are here for me to look back on.

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Thanksgiving 2014 Menu

 

Celery Root Soup with Spicy Sausage, Crispy Pancetta and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Herb and Citrus Brined Turkey with Roasted Vegetable Turkey Gravy

Celery, Scallion, Olive, and Zucchini Turkey Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Candied Yams with Bruleed Marshmallow

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Mushroom Medley with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

Red Potato Gratin with Button Mushrooms, Roasted Leeks, Kale and Parmesan Mozzarella Bechamel

Granny Smith Apple,Green Anjou Pear and Melted Date Cranberry Sauce

Crookneck Yellow Zucchini, White Zucchini and Green Bean Casserole with Celery Root Cream and Sausage

Hot Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Raisins and Granny Smith Apples with Brown Sugar Caramel Cream Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Whipped Cream

 

Mom, Dad and Grandma’s Contributions

Honey Baked Spiral Ham

Deviled Eggs

Spinach Dip, Pimento Cheese, Green Onion Dip and Vegetable Platter and Crackers

Bachan Jello

Pumpkin Pie

Carrot and Banana Muffins
What a delicious feast! Thank you everyone for sharing in this gratitude filled holiday.

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch

A Birthday Celebration to Remember… the perfect way to start my 29th year!

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It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, and though, by kids’ yoga standards, we are referring to the season as fall already, it won’t be fall until 9/22, so I’m sticking with summer for the moment. I had to write about my beautiful birthday celebration on August 20th with my family, because it was truly one of the most special and meaningful birthdays of my life. I am moving through a lot of transition and the stability I have from my family and friends really allows me to be fully present, vulnerable and honest about what I desire in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing support of so many individuals and for my birthday, I felt as if I was celebrating everyone who cares about me and supports me. I taught 3 kids’ yoga classes on my birthday and they really sealed the deal with me about knowing that this is what I’ve been put on the earth to do. I absolutely love kids’ yoga and my ability to share this practice with others is truly something that has transformed my life.
My kids’ yoga company, Little Heroes Yoga, is coming alive and I’m working hard to stay accountable and honest about my intentions for serving the community I grew up in and the families throughout the San Fernando Valley.  This month I launched my first set of Little Heroes Yoga Kids’ Yoga Classes at Two Hearts Yoga. It’s a huge accomplishment and dream of mine and I hope to continue to expand and grow its offerings to further serve children of all ages. Nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits has so much to do with what we do with our bodies as well as what we put into our bodies. Unrivaledkitch will always be an amazing place for me to share my culinary adventures and I’m so glad I’ve been able to write in this blog and learn from these experiences. I’ll always be a chef, but teaching yoga is a very loud calling for me and I’m listening.

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So, for my birthday, Brandon cooked an amazing feast for me and my family. Having a chef boyfriend has a thousand and one benefits, even when you are a chef too, and we celebrated after I taught my classes, which was just perfect. He made all my favorite things and my family’s favorites too. My sister made me a birthday hat and my nieces decorated the house. It was so special and I’m so glad we could all be together.

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Menu
Grilled Spicy Lobster
Fillet Mignon with Veal Demi
Chicken Katsu
Parmesan Grilled Asparagus
Creamed Spinach
Purple Basil and Heirloom Tomato Burrata Caprese with Fig Vin Cotto
Au Gratin Potatoes
Sauteed Green Beans with Soy Sauce
Cheers
Unrivaledkitch

Summer Time Birthday Celebrations and Mammoth

 

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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.

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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.

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BBQ Tri Tip

Boiled Fingerling Potatoes

Chopped Salad

Grilled Nectarines

Baked Beans

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Birthday cake and big smiles all around. Thank you for sharing with us.

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Menu

 

Roasted Mushroom Marsala Cream Grilled Pork Chops

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Herb Grilled New York Steaks

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

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Grilled Purple Baby Artichokes with Garlic and Olive Oil

 

Sautéed Rainbow Chard with Italian Sausage

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Steamed Broccoli and Peas

Roasted Squash and Heirloom Purple Bell Peppers

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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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Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

 

 

Hanukkah 2012

Holiday time is upon us. I’m sure that everyone’s kitchen is so busy this time of year—I know mine is. Maleeya celebrated her 2nd Hanukkah this year and I decided to whip up a few delectable dishes to make lighting the candles a little more special. I think I need a little more practice on my matzo balls, but the soup itself was rather flavorful. My brisket was very tender, which I was grateful for, and my latkes came out crisp and delicious. No matter what wonderful holiday you’re celebrating this year with your families, I hope it is warm and bright with all the love and happiness possible.

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Menu

Potato Latkes with Homemade Apple Sauce

Matzo Ball Soup with Braised Chicken and Fresh Dill

Braised Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy and Broccoli

 

Happy Hanukkah to everyone celebrating the festival of lights!

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-Unrivaledkitch

Family Dinner in Vegas with Sweets from Jean Philippe Patisserie

I love this time of year! It’s so busy and crazy, but there is just so much love in the air that it makes all the craziness worthwhile.  I just got back from an impromptu trip to Las Vegas with Brandon. Brandon’s family lives in the suburbs of Vegas, about 25 minutes outside of the strip. It’s nice to see the local side of Las Vegas instead of the normal craziness that ensues on the strip, although I do have to admit that we took a couple of quick strolls around down there to see what strangeness we could uncover and what restaurants were serving. Ever since our first trip to Vegas, probably about 6 years ago, we’ve always wandered the strip looking for new culinary inspiration. Some of the world’s top chefs have clumped together in that small strip of land, creating a culinary Mecca and once we get a pile of money, I’m sure we’ll try each one. Here are some previous dining experiences I’ve had in Las Vegas.

During this trip we took the locals route of eating and relaxation, which was all thanks to Brandon’s extremely loving and generous grandparents (Jerry and Carol) as well as his aunt and uncle (Daina and Mike) and cousin Noah. Brandon and I also got to put our cooking skills to use making dinner for the family at Daina and Mike’s house. I love family dinners—they are probably one of my favorite meals to cook because making food for people you love is one of the best ways of showing someone that you care about them.

Brandon and I took a trip with Grandpa Jerry to the local Albertsons and we started in the produce section like we normally would. I always like to choose the vegetables I want to make before the protein because I think, seasonally, it’s easier for me to make decisions on flavors from seeing produce. So we picked a couple of things and went on our way. I think initially we had two very different visions for what we were going to make, but we were ultimately able to bring together a delicious meal.

Menu

Ciabatta Crostini with Mascarpone, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Herbs, Garlic and Crispy Bacon

Ciabatta Crostini with Roasted Japanese Eggplant, Fresh Tomato, Basil and Sausage

Roasted Stuffed Chicken Breast with Button Mushrooms, Leeks, Thyme and Garlic

Panko-Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Whole Roasted Marble Yukon Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Zest, Chopped Parsley, Garlic and Thyme

Pan-Seared White Zucchini and Japanese Eggplant with Basil and Cracked Pepper

Arugula and Baby Romaine Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Sausage, Bacon and Honey Dijon Balsamic Dressing

 

Brandon bought some beautiful pastries from Jean Philippe Patisserie. He bought a nice variety of chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake, flan, and hazelnut chocolate cake. The Pastry shop is located in the Aria Hotel on the Vegas Strip. They have an amazing variety of gorgeous beautifully sugary deliciousness. I suggest you check it out for yourself.

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch