Maleeya’s Minnierella 4th Birthday

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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.

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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!




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.

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.

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

Baby Sister’s Baby Sprinkle!

My sister and brother-in-law are having another baby girl! News to some, but not to others and low and behold she’ll be joining us maybe this month. My sister’s due date is August 27th and secretly, I think my sister is going to try and hold out til September 1st, because we already have so many August birthdays. I don’t really think that I, my mom and my dad would mind sharing our birthday month with baby sister…well, not too much! But whenever she gets here, she’ll be greeted with the most love and anticipation. Last weekend we had a small last-minute gathering in Huntington Beach, about 50 miles away from where we live, but cooler (which is a must for a pregnant woman) and also where my grandma lives. Seeing as the valley can get temperatures over 100 degrees, I don’t think my sister wanted to risk having the sprinkle out here.

I’m so grateful to my mom, dad and grandma for helping me put this little event together to share our love and celebrate our soon to be newest member of the family. I’m a second born daughter, so I know what it’s like to be a baby sister and I’m so excited for her to come out and drive us all crazy! I cooked for the event and we had a Pan-Asian inspired Hawaiian-themed little Luau for baby sister. Thanks to everyone who made this day special, stress-free and all about my little niece number two.  Maleeya is going to be such an amazing big sister I can’t wait to see how they get along. If it’s anything like me and my sister, they’ll love each other and sometimes want to kill each other at the same time–the way all sisterly relationships should be. I love my sister so much and I’m so glad that my nieces will be able to have the kind of relationship, friendship, and love that we have for each other.


Coconut Cilantro Green Curry with Button Mushroom, Bean Sprouts and Potatoes


Braised Pineapple Soy Sauce Chicken Legs


Spam Musubi


Chicken Katsu with Japanese Curry


Beef Teriyaki with Ginger and Garlic

Pickled Cucumbers071

Tangerine, Mirin and Dijon Skewered Vegetables


Assorted Fruit and Macaroni Potato Salad


Veggie Fried Rice with Snap Peas


Chinese Chicken Salad with Crispy Wontons, Red Peppers, Scallions and Mandarin Oranges

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Hook Burger Burbank, CA


In a very commercial shopping center in Burbank is this little burger joint: Hook Burger. I haven’t had a hamburger in a long time and something seemed to be calling me to have one at this particular time. Hook Burger, whether they like to admit it or not, is part of the whole gourmet burger places popping up all over the place but they say they’ve been in the burger scene for 35 years on their website, claiming to have the best burger. I don’t necessarily think they have the best burger, but it’s pretty good.


The style of service is order at the counter casual, which is nice for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime. I had a salad there before, which was pretty delicious, but I decided that today I’d have the burger and see what it was all about. I chose the hickory bacon burger, which was topped with bbq sauce, crispy fried onions and bacon on a very fluffy, yet still crusty white bun with shredded lettuce, tomato and mayo with a couple of pickles on the side. Visually, the burger was beautiful and it tasted pretty great as well. I think it had just the right sauce to bun ratio, which is something that I look for in a burger, so it’s neither too dry nor too wet. The beef patty was very juicy and cooked well, but the beef wasn’t extremely flavorful. I had a side salad to accompany my burger. It had balsamic dressing and was extremely simple with just cubed cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a few slices of raw red onion served over mixed greens.


The service was very friendly, both at the counter and when they bring you your food. For $6.25, the burger is a good value for the money and a deliciously heavy lunch that I’m glad I had the rest of the day to burn off.



Aburiya Toranoko‏

2013-04-08 19.17.58 2013-04-08 19.42.47 2013-04-08 19.42.53 2013-04-08 19.45.012013-04-08 19.49.052013-04-08 19.56.08Pressed under an apartment building high-rise in Little Tokyo is Aburiya Toranoko, a Japanese restaurant scattered amongst countless others in the downtown L.A. region. I hadn’t heard much about this place before my sister gave me a bloomspot certificate for my Christmas present—she saw the menu and thought it might remind me of our trip to Japan. The promotional expiration date on the certificate was quickly approaching,smooth so Brandon and I went on a date, not really knowing what to expect. 

Toranoko has a gorgeous mural on the large wall, where most of their seating is located; it is adorned with paintings of Japanese characters, which gives a light and distinct nature to the dark dining room. The middle of the restaurant is home to a long communal table with small dividers, should smaller groups choose to dine with large chandeliers over the table. A large bar fills the opposing side of the restaurant with many illuminated bottles of liquor. The brightly lit sushi bar plays host to the most intriguing part of Toranoko: as a focal point, three sushi chefs line the bar and about 10 seats are available to witness the preparations of each dish. A large classic Japanese painting with a tiger holding a baby tiger in its mouth sets a tone of fierceness in the air.
Toranoko is much different than the classic timeless sushi restaurants of La Cieniega, like Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills. But Toranoko offers delicious offerings with flavors and techniques that are on par with some of the best in the area. We were a bit adventurous in our selection of hot and cold dishes and to our delight, the aesthetics were very interesting and wonderful.Our waiter was polite, but very busy, seeing as there were only two servers in the whole front of the house for a Monday night. It seemed as if most of the emphasis was on the preparation of the food. We watched with anticipation as we sat at the sushi bar for the next dish and as we waited each dish that came out was, for the most part, better than the last. Executive Sushi Chef Seiji Nakano was preparing many different delicious dishes with beautiful elegance and graceful technique that highly skilled Japanese chefs are so well known for.Dishes

Egg Custard |free range egg | ikura| soy broth

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This egg custard was a delightful little dish. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was because I’m not very familiar with egg custards, but Brandon was very excited about this dish. The texture of the egg was very velvety with such a smooth cool texture. The salty addition of Ikura, salmon roe and soy broth added a level of texture and salt to the tender custard.
Uni Goma Tofu | fresh sea urchin | sesame | wasabi
2013-04-08 20.04.25I love Uni, I know that a lot of people don’t like its overtly seafood flavor, but I love it. Fresh uni was paired with a homemade sesame tofu. The soy sauce over the sesame tofu with the uni was really astoundingly unique. It was like something I’d never tasted before, which is always something I look for in a restaurant. The texture of the tofu was so creamy and smooth, without much of the watery flavor that is associated with tofu. A brilliant dish.
Sunomono | cucumber | seaweed
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The sunamono consisted of pressed cucumbers with a various arrangement of other colorful seaweeds. The seasoning had enough acid to salt ratio and the vinegar was refreshing and light.
Steamed Foil Mushrooms | enoki | shiitake | shimeji
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Steamed in a foil pouch, these mushrooms have a very simple clean flavor. Nothing was remarkable about them, but they were very high quality delicious Japanese mushrooms.
White Fish Carpaccio | Japanese shiso | pesto
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The fish on this carpaccio was cut just a bit too thick, which made it a little bit chewy when consuming. The shiso gave the fish a very fresh quality and the pesto garlic oil added a bit of a different element to the dish.
Buta Kakuni | braised pork | spinach
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This braised pork belly was deeply flavorful. The sweetness and salty balance of flavor in the dish was really well done. I loved the addition of hot dry mustard to mellow the fatty pieces of pork. Chopped green onion and sauteed spinach added brightness and a very fresh element to this intensely flavored dish.
Chicken Leg Confit | wasabi | green onion
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I rarely, if ever, order chicken when I go out for a nice dinner, but Brandon loves chicken and how could we pass up something confit. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and extremely succulent, while the skin was crunchy and very flavor forward. A perfectly cooked chicken leg.
Toro Tataki Salad
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Mixed greens with a deep purple toro that was a very rich piece of tuna. The flavor of the dressing was mild to really let the pieces of toro shine in the salad.
Aburi Kanpachi
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This delicious amberjack fish was served sashimi style with ponzu and house soy sauce. The technique for warming the fish with Japanese charcoal and a torch, makes the lightly cooked fish contain a slight smoky aroma and faint flavor. The fish was sliced perfectly with small grooves cut into it to allow the flavoring to melt in. Fantastic.
Japanese Scallop
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Dry packed Japanese scallops were super tender, completely delicate and delicious. The sashimi was paired with lemon and wasabi to add a bit of dimension to the clean simple flavor of the scallop.
Overall, it was a fantastic meal. Everything had an attention to detail that seemed to carry the passionate artistry of fine Japanese food. I’m sure we’ll be back for another delicious meal at Toranoko. Thank you for a wonderful meal.




Yoga in Santa Monica, Ca. and 17th Street Cafe


I know I really shouldn’t spend money on lunch. I’m a yoga teacher ( for the most part and a personal chef here and there with odd jobs, caterings, and a million other ideas brewing away. If anyone is interested in my personal chef, private dining or personal grocery shopping please click on Unrivaledkitch Wellness for more info! It’s working out slowly, but surely because I’m living my dreams and it takes patience to make them happen, and it makes for me being on a pretty tight budget.



I don’t know about you, but the only thing I really spend money on is food. I was just talking to my sister about this. If my stomach wasn’t so curiously hungry, I would probably have more money in my pocket, but a less happy stomach, which makes for a less happy yogi, so I’ll keep eating. Let’s call it research and development and in this salad, it was just that because I have a feeling I’m going to be making this delicious lunch I had today at 17th Street Café  in Santa Monica, sometime very soon.

It’s the simple things in life. On Thursdays, I teach a mini yogis™ baby and me yoga class at UCLA Family Commons in Santa Monica. It’s an amazing establishment that fosters good social skills for children and family support for all types of situations involving children. They have summer camps and winter camps, as well as yoga and martial arts for children of all ages. My Thursday classes are baby and me yoga sessions, which consists of children ages 0-3.  We have tons of fun in class testing limits, singing songs and being present. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to teach at UCLA Family Commons.  After the baby and me yoga class, I have a couple of hours to kill before I teach a really awesome group of kids in a private home in Santa Monica.




Between classes I have some time to explore Santa Monica, which is nice because I’m not very familiar with the area, but it’s just buzzing with delicious cuisine and amazing shops to look at.  I made a quick trip down Montana Avenue where there were so many little places trying to make themselves stand out amongst the others.  I walked down the block just viewing all the ambitious eaters in the area looking at menus and pondering if I was honestly hungry or not. Eventually I settled on 17th Street Café. This charming little café is not very prominent amongst the other places, but I indecisively decided, after peeking in, that an afternoon salad wouldn’t hurt my next class and that I better hurry and eat so I could keep up with three, six and seven year-olds. I was seated right away, very warmly by a man standing at a bakery counter. I kept my eyes away from the pastries, though they did offer a second glance. My waitress was pleasant, but very busy and overall, the café was doing a high volume for its small dining room.


I ordered a passion fruit iced tea that was amply refilled. On the table came fresh hot bread that was delicious with some butter on it. After looking at their extensive menu, I found myself choosing the Oak Smoked Salmon Salad. I ordered a half portion because from the look of everyone else’s plates, the portions were quite abundant. The salad was lightly dressed with a sweet sesame vinaigrette, had chopped button mushrooms, radishes, daikon sprouts, feta cheese and oak smoked salmon. I really liked that the salmon was smashed up finely and mixed in with the feta. It made for a very salty, but refreshing flavor taking out some of the fishiness that is often associated with smoked salmon. I was rather impressed and completely satisfied with this simple and interesting salad, which made for a delicious beautiful lunch in the California sunshine. I’m grateful to 17th Street Café for replenishing my strength for the next adventure in kids’ yoga!

1610 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403



Cafe Nouveau in Ventura, CA

One beautiful Ventura afternoon, Brandon and I were out and about and decided to go into Cafe Nouveau , which recently opened back up after suffering from a kitchen fire last year. The dining room and whole restaurant is very quaint and cute. It looks like a perfect place for breakfast or an afternoon patio lunch.

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Brandon and I decided to dine inside this afternoon. The restaurant is set up into smaller rooms instead of a large dining space. It’s almost like eating in someone’s home, if their home had a bunch of other strangers in it. Our service was very attentive and we enjoyed our meal very much.

Brandon had a really delicious salmon salad and I decided to get a bacon cheese burger, which sounded perfectly wonderful at the time. Both the salad and burger were good; not the best burger I’ve ever had, but still satisfied my craving. The salmon was very fresh and the plethora of fresh and roasted vegetables was a perfect lunch. Our meal concluded with complimentary mini chocolate cupcakes, but what we enjoyed the most was their delicious blueberry corn bread muffin. It was definitely more food than two people need!


497 E Thompson Blvd  Ventura, CA 93001




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.


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.





Fuji Apple, Caramelized Onion and Crispy Bacon Arugula Salad

My sister always says that I make really good salads and I always shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever! It’s just a salad.” But sometimes a really good salad is hard to come by. Some are just too traditional, others just run of the mill—lacking balance, flavor and texture and just haphazardly putting vegetables together with some dressing. I say this vision of salad must be changed so we are more comfortable eating things that we desperately need in our diets such as leafy greens, fruits, bright colored vegetables and balanced fats. I know bacon isn’t healthy—you could definitely omit the bacon— but the idea of this added lusciousness from just one piece of bacon adds depth of flavor and heartiness to this delicious salad. Avocado and sliced fuji apples give this salad great balance of creamy and sweet notes accompanied by the simple white balsamic vinaigrette that dresses the salad. I hope you find balance in your own ways to eat the vegetables and fruits our bodies so desperately need.


1 ½ cups arugula, washed and dried

½ cup baby spinach, washed and dried

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 slice bacon, small dice

½ fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced

½ avocado, small dice

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper



In a small non-stick sauté pan, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and cook diced bacon over medium til crisp, about 4 minutes. Take bacon out of the oil and set on a paper towel to drain.  Using the oil in the pan, place the red onions to cook till tender, about 6-8 minutes on medium heat. Take out of the pan and drain excess grease on paper towel.


In a small bowl, mix together white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, combine well. Add a pinch of salt and a little black pepper.


In a larger bowl, add arugula, spinach, avocado and apples together, then toss with vinaigrette adding a little at a time and tasting for your preference of dressing. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Plate on a small platter and sprinkle over the top crispy bacon and onions. Add a couple of slices of apple and enjoy.



Thanksgiving 2012

I’m so grateful that my family was all able to be together for Thanksgiving. I’m amazed by how much love and gratitude we have for each other. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, of course. There’s nothing better than bringing people you love together over a huge meal. I was very fortunate to have Brandon with me to help with the Thanksgiving traditions and not to mention my craziness in the kitchen. We all pitched in to make a great day for everyone—I think Maleeya really enjoyed herself. I’m still in a food coma after all the cooking and eating. I hope everyone had a beautiful Thanksgiving with some very special people. Enjoy the holiday weekend with lots to be thankful for all holiday season long.


My dad and mom brought:

Spinach dip, pimento cheese dip and ranch dip with crackers, sliced baguette and crudités (raw mixed veggies)

Two-layer Jello

Honey baked ham

Green bean casserole



Fresh Citrus and Herb Sweet-Brined Turkey with Roasted Zucchini, Black Olive and Scallion Stuffing

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Sausage and Mirepoix Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes with Irish Butter

Roasted Fall Aromatic Turkey Gravy

Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kabocha Mash

Candied Yams with Homemade Roasted Marshmallows

Roasted Haricot Verts

Herb Roasted Mushrooms

Roasted Red Potatoes

Cranberry Relish

Cheddar Cheese, Mozzarella and Smoked Paprika Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Marinated Vegetables and Buffalo Mozzarella

Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Zucchini Gratin with Spicy Sausage and Pancetta

Creamed Corn with Red Onions, Chives and Turmeric

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Crispy Pancetta