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.
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.
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.
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.
Well now seeing as I cook for my sister and brother in law most of the time, I hate when i leave because i know they go out to eat or eat some weird bagel or just pot stickers and i just don’t like a lot of the choices out there. I’d rather just cook something so i know whats going into it and even more so now my sister doesn’t really set a toe it the kitchen anymore which is fine when I’m here but when I’m not it produces a bit of a problem. So to adjust to that problem i decided to spend about 3 or 4 hours in the kitchen today making food for them for when I’m gone pack up the fridge and leave it to beaver .
Plus for my own sake i had to get in a good amount of cooking or while I’m gone I’ll go crazy…
Homemade Marinara for pasta (picture taken before blending)
Chicken Parmesan and ricotta
Chicken celery and rice casserole
Meatballs with parsley and red onion
Chopped Chicken tacos
Turkey potato and white corn soup
Colby chicken ranch sandwich
(this is a Japanese style savory pancake that I love my bachan used to make them for me after the holiday. It is one of my favorite things to eat. most serve it with a lot of sauce on top but i like mine with the natural flavors inside. AWESOME)
Sir fried bean sprouts
Hoping everyone has a beautiful weekend ahead of themselves!
Blue Corn tortilla, spanish onion, black olive, and colby jack cheese Chili Roja enchiladas with mashed pinto beans and cilantro onion white Spanish rice
Chili Roja salsa
Red Cabbage and sweet white corn chowder
simple yum! Chicken with pan gravy and biscuits roasted carrots and mash
Beef, celery, and scallion wontons,potato croquettes, Chicken Katsu, tofu, white rice, and sunomono